Precure All Stars New Stage 2

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This movie combines the best parts of the New Stage style of All Stars movies with the best parts of the DX movies. The better story and character development of NS and the great action and fun of DX makes New Stage 2 one of the best crossover movies the franchise has had so far. There’s also a lot of focus on the Smile girls and not actually a ton on the Doki Doki team, so I love it. The movie also has a mix of which older Cures get speaking roles and which don’t, the Splash Star and Yes5 teams are still hung out to dry but the Max Heart trio get to speak and do some awesome stuff. For other teams Passion and Beat get speaking roles but no one else from their team does and Blossom and Marine get to speak but Sunshine and Moonlight don’t. It’s at least a better approach to this than what the first New Stage did and New Stage 2 definitely at least feels more like a big crossover movie. Let’s get into it!

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We’re introduced to a world of fairies, there’s an artificial sun in the sky and a big tree used for school. And then the New Stage theme song plays, showing clips of all the girls going about their daily lives. Except for Michiru and Kaoru you know. But fuck them right?

Back to the fairies and they’re inside a classroom, most of them are young fairies, and Tarte comes to teach them about the Precure teams. He’s famous for being the fairy of a Precure team. He shows them the Miracle Lights too, essentially this part is used to teach the kids in the audience about them and everything instead of there being a skit at the beginning like some other movies have. The fairies already know everything about the Cures and Miracle Lights cause it’s all written down in the Precure notebooks they have.

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One of the fairies, Gureru, says he doesn’t need the Precure and could defeat the bad guys all on his own. But he ends up just causing a fuss in the classroom, it’s clear he isn’t especially popular. There’s also another fairy called Enen, who’s very shy and sort of Gureru’s friend. Enen wants to be a Precure fairy but thinks it’s impossible. Gureru says the Cures are lame anyways since they’re just normal humans and can’t do anything without transforming, and then he hears a mysterious voice calling out to him…

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It’s coming from behind some forbidden door that the teacher told them never to enter. There’s some sort of crystal ball in there and it merges with Gureru’s shadow. The shadow then comes to life and tells Gureru that they’ll make everyone else see how the Precure aren’t anything special.

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We then see the Smile girls and Candy studying together, well actually Candy is supposed to be studying for becoming a Queen with Pop back in Marchenland but she skipped out on it because he’s being too strict. This little scene actually works as a pretty nice little epilogue to Smile too. A letter then comes to them from the Fairy School, Gureru says the Fairy School wants to hold a party for all of the Cures and their fairies and everyone is invited. All the other teams get the letters too, during this we see a very quick cameo by Ayumi, chatting with her friends. Good to see she’s doing well.

The Fresh-Suite teams meet up and go to the Fairy School together.

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And then finally (14 minutes into a 70 minute movie) we see the Doki Doki girls for the first time. They’re having a tea party and the natto-gyoza candy from Smile makes a reappearance, Alice bought some but it’s apparently banned for sale now. Candy then calls out to Sharuru… apparently Candy can do that… and invites them to the party. The Doki team didn’t get an invitation because they’re so new and the Fairy School doesn’t know about them. Mana and Miyuki briefly talk to each other, the first time the Doki team see another Cure.

Back in the fairy world Tarte and the teacher see that the Forbidden Door has been opened and the teacher tells Tarte that the shadow reflects what’s inside your spirit, it’ll try to get you to do bad things and if you keep listening to it eventually it’ll swallow up all light and get really dangerous.

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We then see that the Max Heart team is under attack by some shadow monsters, and their fairies have already been captured by Gureru and his Shadow so they can’t transform. The other teams have suffered this too, except for the Smile Precure.

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The Shadow bullies Enen into helping it and Gureru steal the Smile Pacts from the girls but he gets found out and Reika can tell they’re in danger when the Shadow tries to sneak up on them. So the girls transform and fight it. However because of the Precure notebook the Shadow knows how to counter their every move and he’s able to quickly dismantle them and take their Smile Pacts.

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There was some pretty good action in this fight. The Shadow then starts to turn them to crystal like he did to the other teams, Enen cries and says he’s sorry but Miyuki forgives him. She tells him to tell the Doki Doki Precure that they need help before she crystallizes completely.

Now with all the Precure teams they’re aware of taken care of the Shadow tells Gureru they should go destroy the school. And he sends some of his power into the sky to begin darkening the artificial sun, giving himself more power. Nothing to stop him now. The Shadow makes a bunch of clones and starts to attack the school and terrorizes the fairies, trapping them all inside the school tree. Gureru tries to get the Shadow to stop, he didn’t want any of this, but the Shadow wont listen to him and he creates a shadow monster to chase Gureru away.

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Enen then comes across the Doki Doki girls. But he doesn’t have the courage to tell them what’s going on, Gureru then comes in being chased by the monster so the Doki girls transform to protect him. The Doki team isn’t in the notebook so the shadow just runs off instead of trying to fight them. Gureru and Enen then tell the girls what’s happened. The girls tell them not wallow around, there’s still stuff they can do. Alice shows more character in this scene than she does in most of the Doki season. Gureru wants to stop his Shadow and Enen wants to be more like Happy and help. So he tells Mana what Miyuki asked him to.

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The Shadow looks through the notebook to make sure there’s nothing about the Doki girls, while doing this he comes across a page showing that apparently the DX movies happened in the same continuity of the New Stage movies. Which doesn’t make any sense at all but whatever. The Shadow decides to drop all the fairies and transformation items he’s captured in the lake of the fairy world. But the Doki fairies can communicate with them and learn what’s happened. Meanwhile though the sky continues to darken and the shadow grows more powerful.

Pop and Candy come in to help Enen and Gureru rescue the other fairies. But as they do the artifical sun begins to fall out of the sky, the shadow is beating on the Doki girls and tells them to give up but Heart says that she promised she’d meet Happy and there’s no way she’d quit so easily. Pop and the other fairies go out to reach the other teams but they get attacked by shadow monsters, Candy knows they have to do something to help them now.

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Tarte hears Candy from inside the school and he summons the Miracle Lights. All of the little fairies start waving them around and cheer for the Precure.

The Doki girls get powered up and the crystallization of the other teams weakens. Pop brings the transformation items and the necessary fairies to all the teams and all the Precure are rejuvenated and transform!

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Now the big battle begins. In sheer length and scope this battle dwarfs the others in any All Stars movie. It starts 52 minutes in and ends at 64 minutes, 12 whole minutes of a 70 minute movie devoted to the big fight at the end. At the beginning of it all the Cures stop the sun from falling to the ground and put it back where it belongs, although it’s still darkened, and undoing a lot of the darkness over the fairy world. Happy and the Smile girls go over to help out Heart and the Doki team while the other girls get in a big melee with the shadow monsters.

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There’s some pretty awesome stuff that goes on during the fighting, Black and White especially get to shine.

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And in a really nice scene Beat and Passion meet up with Gureru and Enen and they tell Gureru that he can make up for what he did just like they did, Enen tells him that Beat and Passion used to be enemies of the Precure before turning good.

The shadows try to crystallize the girls again but Tarte and the other fairies use the Miracle Lights to stop it.

Meanwhile the Smile and Doki teams fight one of the big shadow monsters together.

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The New Stage theme song starts to play here and all of the girls get to show off and kick ass. Moonlight and Sunshine at this time also use their powers to cleanse the artificial sun, so the place is pretty much all back to normal.

The Shadow and all its remnants decide to gather as one and turn into a gigantic spider monster to attack the girls! And it’s made with cgi. Sigh. Just like DX2. Did they do it as a reference to that on purpose?

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The fairies continue to cheer on the Cures and everyone gathers together to block the Shadow monsters attack, and of course this means they become cgi as well. Well anyways with the power of the fairies and miracle Lights and all the Precure combined they’re able to overcome the Shadow monster and obliterate it. All that’s left over is the original Shadow in the form of Gureru, Gureru tells it to just stop, he doesn’t hate the Precure anymore in fact he’s amazed by how strong and cool they really are. He says he wants to become friends with everyone at school too, and Enen especially.

And he gets his Shadow to peacefully rejoin him.

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Gureru apologizes for everything but everyone is already happy to forgive him, he also wants to become a Precure fairy now too just like Enen. The girls and fairies all work together to fix all the damage that was done and then have a nice tea party together.

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And at the very end everyone sings and dances to the Doki Doki ending song.

Cute, fun, awesome, has pretty much everything a Precure movie needs. And getting more a mix of Cures doing stuff and getting lines is nice, still not perfect but there’s nothing they can really do about that now with how many Cures there are. Next movie not all of the Smile girls even get to talk. Hm, kind of interesting that New Stage 1 had a girl admiring the Cures and becoming one without a fairy and New Stage 2 had two fairies that want to become a partner of a Cure, I wonder if these things could possibly have anything to do with each other…

I can understand fans of Doki Doki being upset that they don’t actually get the largest roles but considering how I feel towards that season all I can say is: meh.

Until New Stage 3.

 

 

 

 

 

Smile Precure the Movie

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The movie opens like several others, with the girls and Candy explaining how and when to use the Miracle Lights and just sort of teaching the audience proper movie theater etiquette as well.

This is one of the best Precure movies.

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The movie proper begins with a flashback to Miyuki’s childhood in kindergarten. She has no friends and is real shy, she has trouble talking to the other kids at all. A feather then lands on her head and blows to a book left in a bin for any of the kids to pick up and read. Miyuki sees it and starts to read it, but sees that the last pages were ripped out and it has no ending. Still though while she reads it the words of the main character, Nico, have a big effect on her, you should always smile. While she reads the book her silly reactions are noticed by some other girls and they start to talk with her, Miyuki makes some friends for the first time because of Nico. Later at her house Miyuki says she’ll now create an ending for the book.

We then cut to the present. The girls are all going to a picture book festival, Miyuki is especially excited. The opening credits then play and we get to see everyone having fun at the festival, which is practically a little fair, but unbeknownst to them they’re being stalked by a small shadow creature the whole time. After the credits finish they end up going into a tent that will supposedly play a movie. In the movie they see Kinkaku and Ginkaku chasing a mysterious girl holding the same book from Miyuki’s past. The shadow creature then emits a strange light and the characters jump out of the movie into the real world. The girl lands right on Miyuki of course.

The KinGin bros attack them and suck the girl up into one of their gourds and the girls transform and fight them. It’s a pretty good fight that shows off the girls teamwork and elemental powers pretty well. Kin and Gin get sucked up by their own gourd and the girls drag out the other girl.

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It’s Nico. However even when she says her name and shows Miyuki the old book Miyuki doesn’t recognize her. She only vaguely seems to remember something. Some more of those mysterious shadow things come out of the gourd that Kin and Gin were in and then they disappear.

Nico says she’s from the World of Picture Books and offers to transport them all there. Obviously the girls are all over this and it’s a pretty cool scene as they travel across dimensions to Nico’s world. This movie in general is very good looking, pretty, and stylish. Unfortunately there are two full transformations in it, like they really needed to do it twice, but whatever. Candy also had no idea the World of Picture Books existed even though it’s rather similar to Marchenland. We even see a big bad wolf at one point.

Nico says you can become the main character in your favorite Fairy Tale, Miyuki chooses to be Cinderella, Akane the 1-inch Samurai, Yayoi becomes Sun Wukong, Nao Urashima Taro, and Reika Momotaro. Mostly Japanese tales which makes sense considering the target audience after all.

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Nico puts them all in the stories… and then says Miyuki forgot her promise, calling her a liar as some sort of phantom bird like shadow comes from her.

The girls all have a lot of fun in their stories at first, the movie has a similar format to the Fresh movie except done much better, and they all look pretty cute. But watching over them all Nico starts to do something to their Fairy Tales.

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Things start getting screwed up, like the real Momotaro appearing in Cinderella (holding a pumpkin which is pretty damn hilarious). All the fairy tales get mixed up and the stories can’t really start or go anywhere. Nao is most upset when she sees that Sun Wukong and his friends have already eaten all the food in Ryuugujou.

Shortly after this all the normal protagonists get taken over by those shadow things, turning them evil and making them attack the girls.

The girls run from then and end up meeting together, when some unexpected help comes to the rescue.

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The villains from Journey to the West, 1-inch Samurai, and Momotaro come help them. Because the stories got screwed up these guys got annoyed because now without the stories going the right way they’ll never get to appear. I think this is a pretty clever idea for the movie to pull. The “heroes” respond by saying that they don’t care about continuing the stories anymore, there won’t be any happy or bad endings now. There will be no ending.

The girls transform and fight, Sunny is actually still tiny because of the role she took in the story and Cinderella is gigantic because of the prior mishaps. But then the 1-inch Samurai uses his hammer and turns them both back to normal on accident, this causes Cinderella to turn good again and the little shadow thing leaves her body and flies over to Nico. Yes, Nico is here to confront the Precure.

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She says she’s the one behind everything but that they should really blame Miyuki. She shows her the book with the torn out pages and reminds her of the promise she broke. She hates Miyuki now and wants to ruin all the stories she loves. She then retreats into her bird shadow thing and the “villains” let the Precure escape while they hold off the “heroes”.

The Precure find themselves in Nico’s story world. Miyuki tells them about it and Nico. Nico is the girl who always smiles and helps people, but one day the Demon King stole her away to his castle and all the people started fighting again… and that’s it, the rest of the story was ripped out. Miyuki did try to draw and write her own ending but she didn’t like anything she made and gave up. Miyuki now starts blaming herself for all of this.

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But Akane reminds her of her own words and to keep smiling. Miyuki should stay the same optimistic headstrong girl as always. Miyuki decides that she wants to apologize to Nico and get her to smile again.

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We see in a brief flashback how Nico slowly gave up hope that Miyuki would write an ending to her story and how the Demon King nurtured her hate so he could become stronger. He’s the phantom shadow bird thing.

Happy and the others reach the castle that’s covered in a mass of thorns and Happy apologizes but Nico doesn’t accept it, she still hates Miyuki. The “villains” and “heroes” are then brought to the castle by Nico and a fight breaks out again. The action is okay, best part is Beauty getting into a sword fight with Momotaro, they fight their fairy tale counterparts. Happy tries to get to Nico but the thorns swat her away.

Nico says that the others should hate Miyuki too for causing this but of course the others disagree, they love Miyuki.

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Happy jumps to Nico and makes it through the thorns. She tells Nico she learned the importance of smiling through her, it was because of Nico that she was able to first make friends with other people. Nico’s words helped make the Miyuki we all know today. Happy thanks her and hugs her. She’s so sorry for not being able to help Nico. Nico begins to cry and you can see that she wants to forgive Miyuki and her book starts to glow… but then the Demon King acts.

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Trapping Nico in a cage of thorns and drawing up all his power around the castle, he rises from the ruins as some sort of massive birdlike monster. The Demon King questions Nico on what happened to her hate? He wants to use her hate to take over the world, he’ll create a world without endings or smiles, a world of pure hatred. He creates shadowy dragon like tendrils and attacks the Precure while Nico watches. Candy and the villains try to rescue Nico but they can’t get her out. After all that’s happened Nico’s struggling with her true feelings, does she still hate Miyuki? Does she still want to do this?

As she begins to think positively her book glows again but the Demon King notices this and attacks everyone. Happy still tries to save Nico through all of this and Nico realizes she needs to save herself too and get out of this because-

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Her book glows even brighter and she’s freed from the thorn cage, not only that but the torn out pages have regenerated as blank pages. The Demon King tells Nico to come back to him but the Precure tell him how important smiles are and he shouldn’t destroy them. But he just gathers a massive ball of energy in preparation for an attack.

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In return the girls use Royal Rainbow Burst. I love huge clashes of attacks like this and there’s also some really great animation for it too.

However the Demon King actually completely overpowers Royal Rainbow Burst and the girls, while still in their Princess Forms, are severely weakened.

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The Demon King spreads his thorns and power across the entire World of Picture Books. Nico asks him to stop, she says she was wrong to hate Miyuki, she should’ve tried to make everyone smile. What she really wants is a world full of smiles. But the Demon King merely says he doesn’t need her anymore if she wont hate and he fires a blast of energy at her… that Happy is just barely able to block, although it knocks her out completely. He then gathers all his power into a massive energy ball and holds it above the picture book world, preparing to make everything disappear.

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Nico asks everyone to give the Precure the power of their smiles, and her book generates Miracle Lights for everyone.

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Every Fairy Tale character starts waving them around for the Precure.

And Nico? She has something important to tell Miyuki.

After everything it might be a little difficult but still.

 

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She really doesn’t hate Miyuki but in fact she-

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The feelings from Nico and the power granted by everyone and the Miracle Lights gather around Miyuki, allowing her to transform in the greatest scene from any Precure movie.

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She becomes Ultra Cure Happy, a sublime and godlike being that instantly dispels the orb of dark energy from the Demon King and returns the sky and World of Picture Books to normal, while also causing a field of flowers to grow and spread from her as she touches down on the earth again. The other girls and Nico come to her, Nico asks her to save the Demon King.

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They use a new ability and envelop him in feathers while Ultra Cure Happy talks to him, saying that the world is too beautiful to destroy and that it’s a world that wants him in it too. And she purifies him just like that, changing him into a smaller harmless form. Hugging him she takes him down to Nico.

Nico says she wants a world with him smiling more than anything, and he seems to be quite smitten with her. Nico makes up with the other fairy tale characters too. She shows the girls the book with the blank pages and says she’ll create her own story now, kind of like what the Precure are doing in the main series. And lastly-

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Tells Miyuki that she really loves her, which makes Miyuki start to cry like an idiot.

An original ending theme then plays and we see Nico and all the other stories getting back on track, at the end we see that the girls and Candy have been reading Nico’s new story. Finally as the main movie ends the last part is the girls talking to the audience again and explaining to the kids how to dance along with the second ending theme.

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A truly excellent Precure movie, just behind Heartcatch which still wins for being the one that feels the most like an actual movie. This movie has a lot of “pink privilege” like most others do but the Smile movie really takes it a whole nother level. This is Miyuki the movie from start to finish. Luckily Miyuki is a strong character, as are the movie originals, and that scene at the beginning is really good at setting the stage for everything.

Something about this movie that is kind of weird is that it’s explicitly an AU from the main series. It’s difficult to explain without going into a lot of detail but episode 44 of Smile is essentially an alternate version of Miyuki’s past. So the movie and main series really have two different canons that can’t actually be reconciled. Some movies are completely non-canon for other reasons but this is the first to really give a completely different version of something that happens in the series proper. There are other things too like the Royal Clock being used but the hands not moving or anything like that. The movie has nothing to do with the season, which is kind of funny when the girls at the very beginning suspect the Bad End Kingdom might be up to something when they first fight Kinkaku and Ginkaku.

The last thing to mention about the Smile movie is how much it utilized Fairy Tales in comparison to the main series. It’s almost like they saved up their fairy tale quota just for this movie. A lot of people said that the way the movie uses fairy tales and messing with the stories is how all of Smile should’ve been, I can’t entirely disagree but at least the main series uses them for some things. And it still gives us an absolutely superb Cinderella episode. It was certainly nice that the whole movie revolved around this though.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Smile Precure

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Happy! Sunny! Peace! March! Beauty! Let’s go!

My second favorite season of Pretty Cure, right after Splash Star. I love it. Smile may be the most just downright fun season of the franchise, other seasons have better action, better characters, a better story, etc. but no season is just the sheer silly and fun romp that Smile is. Smile is carefree, Smile is trying to get you to have as good a time as possible for the next twenty minutes, Smile is delicious popcorn. But it has a heart too, it has people behind it that cared about it and tried to make it as good as it could be and that’s why on the occasional times it gets serious it’s really great. Smile is a season that’s about 75% silly and 25% serious and there is never any crossover between these parts. Lots of other seasons will have slapstick or some kind of humor during serious episodes but a serious episode of Smile is 100% serious. And when Smile gets serious it gets fucking serious. You’ll have an absurd episode and then the next will entail all the girls getting mindbroken by a sadistic clown monster. What works about this with Smile is that this never comes out of nowhere, when Smile gets serious there’s always a reason and/or buildup to it. And the fact that Smile’s writing is just on point so it can pull this kind of stuff off well, owing also to the shock that a season normally so happy and sugary can suddenly get really dark by Precure standards. Strong villains and consistent well defined heroines also make this striking style work that normally might be seen as uneven in a lesser show.

Smile is also something of a tribute show, that I mentioned in my review of New Stage 1, in that it takes a lot of ideas and plots from older seasons and reuses them but always giving them a new twist and really making them its own too. Other seasons of course do this too but Smile does it a lot and there are other spoiler reasons why I say it’s a tribute to past seasons. Smile feels like a love letter to all the previous seasons while still retaining its own identity and feeling new. It also combines the style of the FW-Y5 seasons and Fresh-Suite, most noticeable right off the bat is that it’s not a 4 Cure team (THANK GOD) but a 5 man with a similar color scheme and mostly analogous characters to Yes5 with Komachi and Nao being the only ones that are really really different. Of course while the others are similar to the Yes5 girls much like Saki and Mai are to Nagisa and Honoka before them the Smile girls are their own characters and eventually fully differentiate themselves from Nozomi and the rest. Smile’s villains are affecting humans the same way that the villains from Fresh onwards do however the main villain Pierrot has similarities to both old villains like the Dark King and Akudaikaan, as well as Despariah and newer villains like Noise. He’s sort of an amalgamation of all prior villain types. The minor villains are also more monstrous in appearance like the old villains but are still a trio. Smile also is the first season since Splash Star to have a set number of items for the girls to get and like Splash Star they get them by defeating the monsters, so the goal the Cures are working towards is always progressing at a steady pace. No more randomness like Yes5-Suite. It’s the same for the villains too, we know exactly how much Bad Energy they need. After how unstructured prior seasons were in this way Smile was a nice breath of fresh air… even if it resets a couple times. But Smile does at least fix the problems of Heartcatch and Fresh, both villains and Cures are accomplishing things. Smile also has less of a complex plot and less mystery in it than Fresh-Suite did, there’s still some stuff there but it’s lighter on it so it’s more like the older seasons in that way.

Another thing with Smile is that at times, especially early on, it seemed like it was a parody of Precure because of how absurdly stupid the villains actions could be. I mean the plot itself is just dumb. Villains go to earth to gather bad energy, they succeed, but instead of just leaving they decide to fight Precure and of course this means they always summon an Akanbe, Akanbe are made from Cure Decor which the girls need to revive the Royal Queen. So fighting and making an Akanbe actually helps the Cures after they inevitably defeat it. And the villains still do this every episode! Even for Precure this is laughable! I remember people thinking that maybe this was intentional for some reason, meta or not, all I can think of for a reason is they just wanted it to be silly. There are a couple other parody like elements that I’ll get to as they come.

Smile, even though it was part of the same golden age of the franchise like Fresh, Heartcatch and Suite, was left out of the big grand finale-like DX3. So maybe that’s why they made it to incorporate as many elements from prior seasons as possible, to connect it to them because the Smile girls didn’t go through what everyone else did when they fought Black Hole. DX3 was the grand finale in movie form and Smile (and its finale especially) is the grand finale of the first two eras as a season. And no season since Smile has been quite as good, yes every season has had its highpoints, even the bad ones, and some have been consistently “good” but no season has been able to reach the heights that Smile has. Doki, Happiness Charge, Go Princess, none of them have been as good as Smile could get at its best. I’m still waiting for a new season that can hit the notes Smile did.

I mentioned that Smile might be just the most fun season of Pretty Cure, in that way it’s similar to Kamen Rider Kabuto, Kabuto wasn’t the best Rider but to me it was probably the most plainly enjoyable. It was created by Shoji Yonemura… who also created Smile. Yonemura worked on Precure before Smile, usually as a writer for individual episodes, and continued to do so afterwards (he ended up writing most of Doki’s best episodes). It’s funny cause Kabuto and Smile are really different aside from their similar enjoyability and silly sense of humor. Kabuto had deep well-written characters with some of the strongest character development in any season of Kamen Rider and is also known for its great action, while at the same time it had a million plot threads that went nowhere and a ton of plot holes all culminating in a clusterfuck and disappointment of a finale. Smile meanwhile had really simple characters who don’t change or develop much at all and a very simple plot that had every major plot thread resolved in a fairly tidy way by the end, and it’s not known for its action. Smile’s finale is divisive too but it doesn’t leave a million things hanging. It’s always been interesting to me that Yonemura could make two very different and yet similar shows like this.

Last to say about Smile before I actually get to episode 1 is that it was very divisive when it aired. It wasn’t until the second half that things really boiled over but even before that there were some complaints about the characters being one-dimensional and the action sucking and them not using the fairy tale them well. I always loved it. Smile has been better received as the years go by and doesn’t really generate hate anymore but there are still a few things about it that people have big problems with. Hopefully my review can change their thoughts on the matter. Because they’re wrong after all.

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Smile begins with a preview of sorts. Showing us all 5 of the girls transformed and flying across the screen. It’s the end of the group transformation that we won’t actually see until episode 6. Interesting way to start the first episode.

And then we get introduced to our cute, silly, upbeat and kind of spazzy, pink-haired lead.

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Her name’s Miyuki Hozhizora and she’s late to school! She’s just transferred schools and despite almost being late she’s thinking positive and super happy to be going to a new school. In fact she thinks that something Ultra Happy might just happen today. Just then she hears something and when she turns around she spots a book flying through the sky, finding this odd she gets another big surprise when a fairy jumps out of the book and smashes into her face. Miyuki thinks the fairy is very cute though and is instantly all over it. Her name is Candy and she’s from the Kingdom of Picture Books, Marchenland. Miyuki asks her to be friends but Candy runs off apparently in search of something. But she left the book behind and Miyuki takes it to school.

Opening theme song plays. It’s cute and catchy. Lots of excitement in it. Try to count how many times the word Smile is used in it. There’s also a good deal of foreshadowing mixed in as a lot of scenes in the opening end up making their way into episodes.

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When she gets to class Miyuki actually has some trouble introducing herself cause she’s surprisingly pretty shy and nervous despite how hyper she comes off as. Miyuki is not super deep or anything but there’s more to her than the first impression as we’ll see later on in Smile.

A red-haired classmate named Akane Hino decides to help her out with her introduction to break the ice. Akane is a bit of a joker, typical anime Osakan, and through her Smile lazily introduces us to the other main girls, Nao Midorikawa, Reika Aoki, and Yayoi Kise. Wooh, look at that theme naming. Akane decided to introduce them to Miyuki because they spoke up while Akane was “helping” out Miyuki. Akane gives a brief character description of each girl but honestly it doesn’t really need repeating aside from how Yayoi is a crybaby… which she then proves by almost bursting into tears after being called one.

Being calmed down by all this Miyuki starts to give a better self introduction. She says how she loves picture books because they always have a happy ending and she’s looking for that kind of happiness every day. Akane asks her what exactly this means and Miyuki can’t really explain it herself. Just something Ultra Happy! A word to the wise, remember this. It’s central to Miyuki’s character arc even if it isn’t apparent at first.

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During class Miyuki sees Candy running around the school from the window. After school gets out she goes looking for her. She finds herself in the library and sees a pink light emanating from one of the bookshelves. Moving some books around she seems to unlock some sort of power and the shelf turns into a portal and sucks her inside.

Meanwhile back on Earth Candy is running around but stops when she sees “The Big Bad Wolf”.

Miyuki has wound up inside some sort of giant library. Looks like the inside of a huge hollowed out tree but we never see the outside of it so who knows. She ends up hearing Candy’s voice from another bookshelf and after moving some books she can see through the shelves like a window and can see Candy running and searching for something called the “Precure”. Again Miyuki pushes some books aside and travels through another portal (dropping the book she got from Candy in the magic library), this time ending up right where Candy is.

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Just then the wolf, who Candy refers to as Wolfrun, takes out a book and splashes some sort of strange black ink over its white pages. The sky changes and everyone around the two falls to the ground despairing. This generates Bad Energy and Wolfrun sucks it all up to help revive the Emperor of Evil, Pierrot. As you can see from the countdown timer Pierrot needs 22 servings of Bad Energy before he revives. Miyuki isn’t affected because she’s so positive, it’s not just because she has the ability to be a Cure, it’s because of her mindset as we’ll see many times later.

Wolfrun comes down to Candy and Miyuki and tells them that the future will reach a bad end. But Candy disagrees, saying that if she works hard she can be happy.

This strikes a chord in Miyuki, who agrees with Candy and says that everyone should keep trying and they’ll eventually become happy even if things start badly. Just like with her introduction. She says this is especially true if people work together.

Miyuki is terrified but she says she’ll protect Candy, she grabs her and runs away from Wolfrun and even when he catches up she refuses to give into him. In a split second scene we see a sudden poof of white feathers and a blast of pink light envelopes Miyuki.

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Something called a Smile Pact appears and Miyuki uses it to transform into Cure Happy. It’s a fine transformation, all of the Smile ones are pretty much the same quality wise. None of them stand out either but none are bad. Happy totally freaks out over how cute she looks. Miyuki is a silly girl.

But even though now she’s a legendary warrior she’s still the same girl and totally afraid to fight. What the hell even is a Precure?! She tries hiding behind a brick wall because of the Three Little Pigs… yeah… but Wolfrun just turns the wall/building into an Akanbe.

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Happy jumps high into the sky to get away from it and then when the Akanbe jumps after her she easily pushes it back to the ground. She might be scared but she’s strong. Candy tells her to use her attack Happy Shower and so Happy gives it a shot… but nothing happens. Precure usually don’t fail this hard. Even new ones. Candy tells her she has to put spirit into the attack but Happy just keeps running for now, she eventually gets tired of this and really doesn’t want to lose to the Akanbe and Wolfrun and her Smile Pact reacts to this a little. She sees that she has to charge her spirit into the Pact. She’s gotta get pumped up.

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It’s a simple beam attack. Hit monster. Monster purified. The end. Thank god. No more wand twirling in Smile, ever. Got pretty tiresome after three season in a row even if the earliest attacks in Fresh and Suite weren’t like that. It’s really refreshing to just see a simple blast like this. Smile in general was immensely refreshing to see.

The attack leaves her totally spent and exhausted, the definition of a finishing move. She gets the Cure Decor that the Akanbe is made from and Wolfrun retreats.

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Everyone is back to normal and no one affected remembers anything. Another thing in Smile more like the old seasons, no one knows about the Precure or the fighting. Candy asks Miyuki to help save Marchenland and Miyuki is incredibly excited to do this and accepts the role of Precure.

The episode ends and we get the ending theme, it’s cute and catchy as well. Good CGI too.

Even though Smile’s first episode is very standard and not particularly great (it’s pretty similar to Yes5’s first episode except it introduces the other girls in a worse way), they seemed to be intentionally going for as straightforward and simple of a first episode as possible, it really grabs you with its energy right from the beginning. Smile has a certain energy and exciting charm to it. It’s a very pure show. Good clean fun describes every season of Precure but especially Smile. “Simple, fun, easy to understand.” This is a mantra that goes with Smile whether you’re using it positively or negatively. Yonemura wanted it to be simple and he succeeded. Simple fun. For an example of how Smile grabbed someone like me, who watched it as it aired after finishing Suite, just look at this:

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This is Miyuki as she runs late to school. Look at that movement, that vibrancy, the expressiveness, when the butterfly comes in and she starts skipping. After Suite which was relatively dull and washed out looking with lower animation quality seeing this kind of love and work put into the first episode just drew me in. I liked Suite but it didn’t have the look and detail that Smile had. And it’s not just the look but the fun atmosphere this very short scene manages to create in Smile.

On to episode 2.

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So all 5 of Smile’s intro episodes are pretty simple and straightforward but they still set up each Cures character arcs in a way. For the most part. Candy now lives in Miyuki’s house, she’s hungry so it’s time for the Strawberry Decor! This Decor can be used to create a big strawberry for Candy to eat. All Decor’s have special properties like this and Smile uses them a lot more than other seasons use similar things, like Pinkies in Yes5. Candy also tells Miyuki there are 4 more Precure and they need to find them.

We see Wolfrun in the Bad End Kingdom, although we don’t get a good look at it just yet, and he’s pissed off over getting defeated last time so he plans to go out again. So episode 2 is Akane’s episode and we see that she’s on the volleyball team and one of their best players. Miyuki decides that Akane (and Yayoi too cause she’s nice) should be Cures… and then just flat out asks them despite the fact that this is all supposed to be secret. Miyuki is not good at keeping the Precure secret. Ever. Akane and Yayoi don’t really know what to make of this so things just go normally for now but Akane then has some trouble at her next volleyball practice. It gets her down so she does some training of her own after school. Miyuki sees her and tries to cheer her up, she tells her that happiness will run away if you cry and that you should always keep a smile on your face. This is something that gets repeated at later points in the show, it’s a simple and not particularly deep but still sweet theme of the show.

Miyuki helps Akane out with her training but at the next practice Wolfrun attacks, the Bad Energy gathering affects Akane and gets her to despair. Miyuki transforms and Wolfrun makes an Akanbe out of a volleyball, the fight begins. Shortly in Happy tries to finish it off with Happy Shower and-

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I honestly laughed out loud when I first saw this. And now she’s exhausted. When she tries to use the attack again it doesn’t work and she and Candy realize you can only use it once because it takes so much energy. The Akanbe grabs Happy and starts to crush her, but keeping true to her own words she tries her best to smile and tells Wolfrun she won’t give up like this. Akane sees this and snaps out of the Bad Energy effect. She recognizes Miyuki as Happy instantly too, first time the transformations don’t act as disguises. If the girls get seen anyone would be able to tell who they are.

Wolfrun mocks Happy for calling Akane her friend but Happy tells him that friends are precious and having them around makes everything better. To help and support each other and enjoy things even more. This resonates with Akane and it ends up being a major part of her character. She tries attacking the Akanbe, doing anything to protect her friend, and the same poof of feathers happens and an orange light envelopes Akane. Her Smile Pact appears and she’s able to transform into Cure Sunny. She’s surprised as hell by Candy and all of this.

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She gets embarrassed from the silly stuff she says while transforming. Sunny’s strength is… well, strength and she shows this off by catching and throwing the Akanbe when it jumps in the air and tries to crush the two of them. She then finishes it off with Sunny Fire, she hits a ball of fire like a volleyball at the Akanbe and the girls get the Rose Decor. Everything’s back to normal for now and Akane is happy to help Miyuki and Candy. Miyuki has her first friend now too.

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Akane is someone who really treasures her friends. She’s real hyper and a joker too but not hyper on Miyuki’s level.

Episode 3 starts and the girls use the Rose Decor to make a bouquet. It serves no purpose other than merchandising, later Smile becomes much better with how the Decor are used.

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Miyuki tells Akane they need to find the other 3 Cures and they then spot Yayoi drawing something. She gets embarrassed and covers it up but they think she’s great. Yayoi has no confidence in herself though and doesn’t want them to talk about it.

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Now we really get to see what the Bad End Kingdom looks like and we get introduced to the next general, the big dumb brute Akaoni. Red Oni, if you want to just go for that, I’ll always just call him Akaoni cause whatever. This time he’s the one who goes to gather Bad Energy.

At school there’s a competition for drawing an anti-trash/littering poster. Miyuki and Akane nominate Yayoi to draw one for their class. She’s nervous but timidly accepts. She’s worried about it though cause there are other great artists at school who are drawing posters for it and she thinks she can’t compare to them. She beats herself up over her lack of confidence but Miyuki and Akane reassure her and convince her to give it a shot. She just needed some friends to support her. She’s still a crybaby though.

Yayoi really likes superheroes too, her poster is of a cleaning superhero.

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Unfortunately the next day the girls see that Yayoi’s poster didn’t win and Yayoi gets upset after the Art Club disparages it so she tears it down and runs off. Akaoni then comes down and calls her a weakling crybaby, cause he’s just a jerk like that, and gather some Bad Energy. It also affects Yayoi of course.

Akane and Miyuki are surprised to see a new monster, he creates an Akanbe from Yayoi’s poster. The girls fight it but they screw up their attacks and they fizzle out before they can hit it so they end up exhausted trying to fight the Akanbe. The Akanbe also fires an energy beam from its mouth, a lot of Akanbe made by Akaoni do that. I guess he just likes beams. Akaoni goes on to insult the poster and Yayoi and everything so Happy stands up for Yayoi, saying she’ll never let him insult Yayoi for all the hard work she’s done. This snaps her out of the Bad Energy effect and she too instantly recognizes Miyuki and Akane. Happy and Sunny get knocked around a lot and Yayoi wants to help them, she’s scared but she thinks about everything they did for her and she runs out to protect her new friends. This causes her to become a Precure and she transforms into Cure Peace.

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And then she instantly runs off crying scared from the Akanbe. When the Akanbe is about to catch her she out of reflex shocks it with lightning. The Cures in Smile can use their elemental powers outside of stock attacks, this is the first instance of it. She then gathers her spirit and uses her attack, Peach Thunder (the lightning that she calls down during her own attack scares her) purifying the Akanbe and getting them the Rabbit Decor. Yayoi is happy to be a superhero and she’s thankful for the courage Miyuki and Akane gave her.

You might be wondering what Peace has to do with lightning and electricity but considering her symbol is the peace sign I always thought it was because of Jacob’s Ladders. Technically it has nothing to do with anything but it fits “Hey she uses the peace symbol so let’s give her lightning powers, why not?”.

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Episode 4 is for the most underrated Cure of the show. Before getting to that we see that the Bunny Decor is used to make a brush that the girls can style Candy’s ears with and Akaoni again is heading out to Earth.

Miyuki decides she wants Nao to be a Precure (I really like how this makes it like no girl is destined to be a Cure and anyone can do it, Miyuki just chooses to find others she likes) cause she’s brave and cool after she helps them deal with some annoying girls that try to kick them out of their lunch spot. Nao plays soccer, so we have two athletic Cures, and she’s a very direct and straightforward person. Everyone thinks she’s cool. Miyuki decides to go find her when school is off… but gets lost because she doesn’t know where she lives and she just moved to the area. Miyuki doesn’t think things through. But as luck would have it she ends up running into Nao anyways.

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Miyuki accompanies her home and meets Nao’s 5 younger siblings. Nao usually has to take care of them, she’s a great cook and great at other housework too. She’s just a nice and strong older sister and her family is more important to her than anything. Candy calls over Akane and Yayoi and they all start to play soccer. But Akaoni comes in and gathers Bad Energy, causing Nao and her siblings to despair. The girls transform and-

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Akaoni sucks at rock-paper-scissors. But the Akanbe he makes is smart and cause it goes after Nao’s siblings the girls have trouble with it, this is the first episode to have some nice action in it. Akaoni tells them they should just run away but Akane says that while they may not know each other very well yet they will someday and they’ll have really strong bonds so they’d never do such a thing. All this talk about bonds wakes up Nao, when Akaoni says that all friendships and families will one day fall apart and has the Akanbe attack her siblings Nao attacks it (similar to Akane who attacked her first Akanbe before she transformed) and she says her family will never fall apart. This desire to protect them causes her to transform into Cure March.

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Big hair. She has super speed too and there’s some really nice animation when she fights. She defeats the Akanbe with her attack March Shoot and they get the Butterfly Decor. Nao happily asks to join everyone else. I really like Nao. She’s a lot deeper than she initially appears.

So episode 5 brings us to the last introductory episode. Time for Reika!

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We also get introduced to the final Bad End General, Majorina. She’s like a reversed version of the Evil Queen from Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. I’ll get more into that later. This episode has a lot of references to Snow White too. Not anything really meaningful but more like just fun references.

So Miyuki is late again and she sees Reika watering the flowers at school. The two of them head to class together, Miyuki watches her a little more during class and decides that she’d be the perfect 5th Cure. She’s prim and proper, sweet and smart, everyone else agrees that Reika would be a great Cure. As a side note her VA is the same girl who did Dark Dream in the Yes5 movie.

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Reika is in the archery club too. It fits her. The girls come by and visit her, she’s pretty much perfect at everything and the girls could use someone like her. They ask her outright to join them and show her Candy. Reika is surprised by all of this. She says she’s currently too busy though, the student council is putting on a Fairy Tale Read Aloud for the nearby elementary school but the president is sick and so as vice president all the duties fall to Reika. They’re reading Snow White this year. The girls decide to help the student council out and they make a bunch of props and things for it.

Majorina comes in and ruins it though. Taking Bad Energy from everyone. The girls transform and Majorina makes an Akanbe out of the mirror prop they made. It then creates 7 clones of itself.

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Thinking they have a 50/50 chance to hit the right one they each use their attacks on one of the Akanbe… this is why they need someone like Reika. She is the only intelligent one. Naturally the girls fail to hit the real one. Majorina starts to insult Snow White and the Read Aloud and this snaps Reika out of the Bad Energy. Reika can not tolerate someone insulting something she and her friends worked so hard on and she certainly can’t forgive someone who would cause such destruction. This allows her to transform into Cure Beauty.

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This episode doesn’t have as much emotion as the other intro episodes nor does it really tie into Reika’s character arc as much. But it does show the place she fills on the team. She instantly picks up on her abilities as a Cure and quickly figures out that because the Akanbe is a mirror then the one that’s reversed from all the others is the real one. She then purifies it with Beauty Blizzard and they get the Phone Decor.

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Reika now gladly joins the group. Everyone likes Reika a lot and the episode ends on a freeze-frame as all 5 of the Cures have been gathered. Smile uses this a lot, other seasons did it too but not nearly as much as Smile does it. This episode was okay but easily the weakest of the intro episodes. I do like the Snow White stuff though, old crone villain, mirror, “Snow” White and Beauty uses ice as her element, Snow White being the fairest of them all and Reika being Cure “Beauty”. Yeah, lots of nice little stuff like that.

But now the intros are done with and it’s time for Smile to actually get to it’s plot. Next episode some very important things will come up.

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This episode introduces two fan favorite characters. The first of which is Pop, Candy’s older brother. At the start of the episode the girls are celebrating how they’re all together and they start asking Candy things like “What are the Precure?”, “Who are those bad guys?”, etc. and Candy of course has no idea really. Then suddenly another flying book comes in and hits Miyuki in the face. Out of it comes Pop, he doesn’t like being called cute but cool works. He asks for the Legendary Precure book that Candy brought with her so he can explain things and of course Candy doesn’t have it because Miyuki picked it up and left it in the magic library. So Pop explains that library allows them to travel anywhere where there’s a bookcase and then shows them how to use it. This… doesn’t get used a lot. It’s a shame and one of the legitimate complaints about Smile was that this idea was kind of wasted. So anyways they travel to the library and find the book.

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Pop explains how the Marchenland was attacked by Pierrot and his minions so the Royale Queen fought back. But Pierrot stole the Cure Decor that powered the Queen and turned them into the Akanbe noses. With the last of her strength she sealed away Pierrot. Now they need to gather the Decor to revive her. Pop shows them the Decor Decor that they need to put them in, once they have all 6 Decor the Royale Queen will be revived.

And in the Bad End Kingdom…

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Joker appears. He talks to the three generals, who all hate him, and tells them that there are only 5 Precure and that they need to gather Bad Energy for Pierrot to give the entire Universe a Bad End. Majorina leaves to go fight them and Joker, well he makes a creepy face and sound. Even right from the beginning Joker already shows signs of being much darker than his silly antics in front of the other villains would suggest.

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Joker is disturbing. Get used to that. I would not be surprised if there were a lot of kids who watched Smile that were terrified of him. But as for Western fans everyone loves Joker. Even people who hate Smile love Joker. He’s the best. He’s like the bastard child of Moerumba and Kawarino.

Back with our heroes Pop explains how the Queen sent out the 5 miraculous lights and sent Candy to Earth to find the Precure.

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Inside the book pages with the girls appear and after that it’s blank. They are the main characters of this story and as it goes on the book will fill up. This isn’t like a huge plot point of Smile but it actually is kind of important, don’t forget about it.

Miyuki says they need to come up with a catchphrase, Akane and Nao don’t care but Yayoi and surprisingly Reika are into it. While they’re thinking one up Majorina starts to gather some Bad Energy so the girls go to stop her… but then Miyuki accidentally travels to the south pole when she thinks about penguins while traveling through the bookcase. Pop has to go rescue her.

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There are simply too many good screenshots for me to take in Smile. I’m gonna go crazy.

Majorina creates an Akanbe and while Pop and Miyuki are going back he asks her about Candy. He tells her that Candy tries really hard but she’s a crybaby and gets lonely easily too. But Miyuki tells him they all love her and it’s better for him to smile than worry. Huh, “Smile”, that gives Miyuki an idea.

Miyuki and Pop come back to their city and meet up with the others, Miyuki gets them to huddle around and she tells them her plan for a catchphrase and pose… while a disbelieving Majorina looks on because they are technically in the middle of a fight. Anyways they all transform and show off their pose and catchphrase which you can see above you at episode 1. And then Majorina’s Akanbe fires a missile at them while they’re still posing. Another moment that made me laugh out loud when I saw it cause that kind of stuff usually doesn’t happen in Precure.

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Pop then uses his magic to transform into a big press and they squish the Akanbe and then purify it, getting the Star Decor. Pop has to go back now, he takes care of Marchenland. They can use the Cell Phone Decor to call him if need be.

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He tells Candy that when you say goodbye you do it with a smile so Candy and them wish him well even though Candy is sad to see him leave. Still, her new friends are there for her.

Next episode would pretty much be the definition of filler but it actually expands on the characters somewhat. The episode also references Anne of Green Gables, not a Fairy Tale but whatevs.

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The girls realize they need a private place to talk about Precure things and call Pop and stuff. They first think of using the magic library but after tripping over roots and falling in holes they decide to look elsewhere. The whole point of this episode is… well… hm. Let’s say it’s about the journey and not the destination. And we do learn some new things about the girls and their friendship is sort of solidified here as well.

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We learn that Reika takes absolutely everything seriously. So much so that she’s a rather silly character in her own way. She tries to make them see the top of Mt. Fuji as their ideal base. Reika doesn’t understand how weird some of the stuff she does is or how weird her way of thinking is. Naturally none of the other girls understand Reika either. This is also the first mention of “The Path” but that doesn’t really become important for Reika until later, her path is just an idea Reika is obsessed with.

Aside from Reika we learn that Nao is a lot girlier than she lets on. She likes stuffed animals and cute things, so does Akane, it’s just that she doesn’t show that side of herself to everyone. She probably also needs to put on a strong face for her siblings too. Yayoi shows off her own silly and superhero loving side too.

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After a series of failures Miyuki tells the girls that the reason she wants them to have a secret place if because in Anne of Green Gables, one of her favorite stories, Anne and Diana swore to be best friends forever in their secret place. So Miyuki wants them all to have something similar. Miyuki takes them to a place in a forest she knew as a kid but upon coming to it they find some new kids there. Miyuki isn’t really upset by this though because it means some other friends have found a secret place. Wolfrun is there though and he gathers Bad Energy from the kids. The girls transform and Wolfrun makes an Akanbe out of a tree, as is typical for this part of Smile the fight is pretty crappy and nothing really happens in it. Shortly in they defeat it and get the Ring Decor.

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In the end the girls return to the magic library and decide on it as their secret base. A lot of people called this episode pointless, especially when Candy reveals they could’ve used the Star Decor to make themselves a little house and furnish it from the beginning but hey, it’s all about having fun.

And that ends the beginning of Smile. After the intro episodes 6 and 7 finish wrapping up everything else, we know the plot, the world is fleshed out, all the important characters have appeared or been mentioned and now they have their hideout. After this comes episodes 8-12 which are a block of episodes that all share the same purpose, some more minor “development” of our characters and also showing off how the girls become better at fighting and using their abilities and setting the stage for future villain rivalries. Episode 12 is kind of different but I’ll get to that as it comes. Smile has a simple start focused mostly on comedy above anything else.

And you know, how come the Bad End Generals are Fairy Tale monsters when the monsters of the week are clowns and Joker and Pierrot are clowns too? I wonder if there’s a special reason for that.

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Da-da-da-daaaa!

Episode 8 is a really fun episode. It introduces a couple things that would sort of become running gags and is mostly just silly fun. Smile is the most episodic season for a reason. Miyuki and Candy see some rings fall out of the sky and when they put them on, because why wouldn’t they, they get body-swapped. And they can’t take them off.

Turns out Majorina created these rings. She’s more like an inventor than a witch. Akaoni saw them and accidentally threw them out of the Bad End Kingdom. SOMEHOW. I mean really, think about that for a moment. He sneezed and somehow they flew out of their castle/mansion thing and traveled into a different dimension and fell to Earth. I love Smile. Akaoni and Wolfrun also couldn’t possibly give less of a shit about this happening either but Majorina goes to Earth to find them.

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A lot of people started hating Candy this episode because she keeps doing stuff to get “Miyuki” in trouble. I never hated her though, she’s still young and it’s funny to see everyone else try and cover for her. Miyuki though gets mad at Candy so she runs off.

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Majorina asks a police officer on Earth if he’s seen the rings. OKAY. This guy becomes a very minor recurring character too. While there Majorina sees Candy run by with the ring on her. Miyuki at this time is thinking that she was too harsh to Candy because at least she was trying her best. There was no ill-will behind it. Candy is not Milk or Porun.

Majorina finds Candy at a local playground, she gathers Bad Energy from the people around there and shows Candy the magic medicine she made that can remove the rings. Candy tries to transform but she can’t, the other girls arrive and they transform without Miyuki. Majorina makes an Akanbe out of one of those spring play horses, it’s small but fast and it catches the other girls in coils. The fight this episode is the best one so far in Smile. Candy tries to protect Miyuki cause even if she can’t transform she knows that Miyuki would give it her all to protect her too and the two of them make up. Thus allowing Miyuki to transform.

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Into Cure Candy! It’s cute. And in the fight Miyuki uses her small body to it’s fullest potential, running circles around the Akanbe and using the playground equipment to fight it. She tires it out and even gets it to attack Majorina on accident so they can nab the magic medicine. Cure Candy then defeats the Akanbe and they get the Cherry Blossom Decor. Afterwards they use the potion and everything is back to normal.

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And freeze frame. So body-swapping was done in Fresh and it also involved one of the Cures and the fairy. However Smile ends up going for the reverse in the end and instead of Tarte fighting in Pine’s body Miyuki fights in Candy’s body. That’s Smile’s way of using old episode plots. It uses another old plot from GoGo in a few episodes. Also this episode introduces the “Majorina’s lost item” episode format. Every now and then she’ll lose something like this and the girls will find it and shenanigans will happen. However Smile keeps slightly changing up how things go in these episodes and the magical affect is always different so it never gets stale. For the first few episodes it’s usually Candy’s fault when things happen and Wolfrun and Akaoni get off scotfree despite causing things but Smile makes sure to twist things around as the season goes on. Smile is a master of the little things.

The next two episodes are fun but simple ones and there isn’t really any reason to go into greater detail on them. Episode 9 is a Yayoi episode, it’s April Fool’s and Yayoi tells a lie that gets out of hand. This episode is just typical Smile fun, it shows a more playful side of Yayoi that we had inklings of in previous episodes but doesn’t really tie into her cahracter arc or development. It’s sort of like a moral of the week episode. Like last episode with Miyuki this one does show Yayoi becoming a better/smarter fighter when she watches the Akanbe’s movements to predict what it’s going to do next so she doesn’t get tricked by Akaoni’s false commands to it. It also sets up the villain rivalry that comes to a head in the mid-season climax between Peace and Akaoni, he was the villain in her debut episode and he’s the one in her first focus episode since. Episodes 10 and 11 do this for Akane and Nao too. There’s a lot of good comedy this episode as well and at the end the girls get the Pudding Decor. As a side note Yayoi is very short.

Episode 10 is Akane’s episode. Akane’s family runs an okonomiyaki restaurant and Akane is trying to find out the special kick that makes her dads cooking so good. Akane is basically a walking Osakan stereotype. We do meet Akane’s family this episode but they aren’t important characters. There’s some great comedy, most of it involving Wolfrun, and I’ve noticed that all of the Smile girls civilian clothes are really cute. Wolfrun is the villain just like he was in Akane’s debut episode. The fight is not exactly great or anything but it has some awesome stuff and really good animation in it. Sunny shows some quick thinking and uses her fire to augment her attacks and movements, she’s the first girl to consciously use her element like this. This episode actually does figure into Akane’s character arc but it’s not really apparent at first, it only all comes together much later in the show. The girls also get the Umbrella Decor from the Akanbe this episode.

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Okay! Next episode is the second Majorina’s Lost Item episode. This time she loses a hammer that shrinks people, it’s from the 1-inch Samurai fairy tale. This time Candy accidentally uses it on everyone, more people started disliking her here. She also runs off confused as to where they all could’ve gone. Something that really didn’t endear her to anyone. I like how almost the entire episode is spent with the girls shrunk, it really gets right into it and the episode is super fun because of it. There’s a bunch of cute scenes.

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So this is also a Nao episode and we learn she’s terrified of bugs. And heights. And in later episodes we learn she’s terrified of basically everything. This is something that really clashes with the “cool” character Nao is supposed to have and she tries to hide it from everyone. This episode shows off the surprising depths Nao actually has and later episodes further develop this as I mentioned. And when scared and frantic like this she acts just as crazy as anyone else in the show despite normally trying to be… well, much more normal than Miyuki, Yayoi and Reika at least.

So in the Bad End Kingdom Majorina is looking for her hammer, which she specifically created to defeat Pretty Cure with, and she learns that Akaoni again threw it out of their place. And it again somehow traveled through dimensions to get to Earth. And landed right where the girls are. I love Smile. There’s also a lot of weird noise in the background of this episode. Must’ve been intentional.

During all the silly stuff going on Miyuki, Yayoi and Reika are funnily enough the ones handling being shrunken the best. Probably because Akane and Nao are much more straight characters. Majorina also goes to the police officer again and again she sees Candy run by and chases after her. After learning how she’s afraid of bugs the girls try to get Nao to see that they’re just regular living creatures trying to live happily, seems like it might be working on her too.

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Majorina chases Candy back to where the girls are and she sees them in the grass. Instead of just stomping them… which was probably the point of the shrinking hammer in the first place she creates an Akanbe… that is very small. The girls make sure not to let her realize how stupid this is. Oh yeah and Majorina also gathers Bad Energy from the bugs. Which is absurd. This episode is hilarious. The fight also is so far the best in Smile, the girls work as a team and support each other and setup attacks. Which considering it’s a Nao episode I think is pretty fitting since she’s supposed to be like the Team Mom character. After they defeat the Akanbe Majorina finally realizes she could just step on them… and then she accidentally uses the hammer to make them bigger. Congratulations Majorina, you have reached Gekidrago levels of dumb. This episode feels like a parody of the typical Precure episode, even for Smile it’s absurd how dumb everything is. I love it.

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So they defeated the Akanbe and got the Lipstick Decor. Nao despite defending the bugs from Majorina and everything is still terrified of them, which I kind of like since it’s always silly to me when someone instantly gets over their fear in one episode. And although Majorina wasn’t in Nao’s debut episode this was Nao’s first focus episode since so the rivalry will be born as well.

So this was also another “reused” episode plot. GoGo had a shrinking episode as well but that was much more serious and had actual drama while Smile’s goes complete comedy. That episode of GoGo was dumb too but in an unintentional way while this was the most intentionally dumb episode of Precure so far.

Episode 12 next is the first bad episode of Smile. In fact it’s the worst episode of Smile. Couple things to mention first off is that this episode sets up the school trip to Kyoto that takes place in episodes 13 and 14. It’s also the first episode that doesn’t really look up to par either, having noticeably worse animation compared to previous ones. It’s technically a Reika episode but not really because she isn’t developed at all, the episode merely reiterates what we already knew about her and her place in the team. It’s sort of a Candy episode but not a good one, and another reason why people didn’t like her cause they saw her as “stealing” from Reika. And worst of all the episode resets the last 4 episodes of development the other girls had and it makes them stupider in the fight. Reika kind of gets a special bond with Candy because of this episode but not like a huge one or anything.

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So Candy is upset because she’s going to be left behind while the girls go on their trip. Reika meanwhile is feeling a bit overwhelmed as the only one of the girls with a brain and the others aren’t really listening to her. Joker also returns this episode to give the generals 6 blue Akanbe noses. They aren’t made from Cure Decor so the Precure’s purifying attacks wont work on them, but they’re physically a little weaker. Joker also mentions he needs to look for something called the Miracle Jewel, which can grant any wish…

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Candy wants to be like Reika but she isn’t doing a very good job at it. As we know when Candy tries to help out she usually just ends up making things worse. She really just wants to be helpful to the girls. Candy runs off to be alone and gets grabbed by Wolfrun, he tells her about the blue Akanbe being invincible and then stuffs her in a cage. Pretty much just to be a jerk. He then confronts the Cures and makes an Akanbe.

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Aside from the blue nose it has other differences, the facial expression and the clothes are both different from red noses, just a nice touch I always liked about Smile. All the Akanbe types have noticeable difference.

And so when the girls fight it they all, except for Beauty, waste their attacks on it and get tired out despite the fact that Beauty tried to warn them. So annoying after they had gotten smarter recently. Yeah the Smile girls are probably collectively the dumbest team but this is still stupid how it resets them like this, they stay stupid for the next couple episodes too. Beauty gets to show off her smarts but we already knew she was smart so what’s the point of this episode doing what it does? Wolfrun tells them that the blue nose Akanbe aren’t made from Decor so all their attacks are useless. Candy manages to free herself but obviously arrives to late to the fight and can’t give any actual help. However her sheer desire to be helpful and the girls feelings of friendship with Candy causes a new power to come from her. She powers them up and they use a new attack, their first group one, called Precure Rainbow Healing.

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It is a terrible and boring attack. They stand in a semicircle and a rainbow comes up from them and then turns into a blast of blank white light that purifies the Akanbe. No oomph or excitement or anything cool. The only thing good about it is its music. Also annoying is this is the bad kind of being useful for a fairy, random powerups. I said there wasn’t anything random in Smile so I guess I have to apologize. Luckily Smile doesn’t make this mistake again and Candy eventually gets real development and starts being helpful in better ways where she actually does stuff. Not for a while though. Screaming Fairy giving a powerup is the worst.

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So Joker was watching all this and doesn’t seem to be worried about their new power. In fact he seems pretty happy, thinking that Candy and her power might be a clue to the Miracle Jewel. This episode obviously doesn’t set up anything really for Reika and Joker but he’s still sort of the shadow antagonist of the episode and he clearly is much smarter and occupies a special place among the villains just like Reika does among the heroes.

The next two episodes are the school trip that was mentioned in episode 12. Episode 13 takes place in Kyoto and 14 is in Osaka.

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After the minor character and world building of the last 5 episodes these two are purely silly and fun ones. Lots of great comedy in them. There’s a also a lot of really nice animation and faces in episode 13. The girls all go to the typical Kyoto tourist spots, if you’ve seen one Kyoto episode in anime you know the ones. And they decided to bring Candy along. Max Heart also had an episode where they went on a school trip to Kyoto but it’s so completely different in style it’s pointless to compare them. Reika shows off how she’s a living encyclopedia, Nao even calls her a walking guidebook, and my favorite part of this episode is just being able to see the girls acting like normal girls.

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We learn Miyuki has a crush on Peter Pan, as expected of Miyuki. Really this episode is just such a “Smile” episode, just trying to be as enjoyable as possible.  A bird poops on Miyuki’s head too making it one of the very few instances of toilet humor in the franchise. Both this episode and 14 are blue nose Akanbe ones too. And to show that at least Sunny is still dumb she tries to attack the one this episode with her regular attack. WHY?! That they make Sunny do that is my only complaint of the episode.

So next episode is more of the same type of comedy and silliness but there are two things of note in it. One is that it introduces the natto gyoza candy that would sort of become a running gag for a bit. Sounds disgusting but Majorina loves it. The other thing is that Candy gets Miyuki to use a Decor in the fight, the Butterfly Decor, to give Sunny, March and Beauty wings so they can fly. It’s the first instance of a Decor being used in a fight and it’s the  good kind of Fairy support by Candy, even though she didn’t really use the Decor herself like she does after her character development later in the show it’s a step in the right direction.

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Also Nao is a big eater.

So there’s no action at all in the fight this episode. The girls distract the Akanbe by flying around it and tiring it out and such. I like the inventive types of fights Smile has like this because it also has plenty of good normal fights, this kind of thing works really well for a silly episode. Smile was the first season to have a lot of atypical non-fights like this one. Unfortunately this episode March and Beauty along with Sunny also attack the Akanbe with their regular attacks. WHY?! This makes no sense! The only explanation I can possibly think of for why they would do this is maybe they were concerned that some kids watching Smile might not have caught the most recent episodes and they wanted to be really sure that everyone knew the regular attacks didn’t work on blue noses.

And next episode the girls are back home and it’s Mother’s Day. It’s pretty similar to Yes5’s except that in Yes5’s episode the fight was tacked on and pointless whereas in Smile the fight is central to the episode. Miyuki is also terrible at all housework just like Nozomi.

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Miyuki completely forgot about Mother’s Day so she’s trying to think of what to get her mom. I think Miyuki’s mom, Ikuyo, is the most popular mom in the Precure franchise. Which is funny considering she barely appears.

The other girls try to think about what Miyuki’s good at so she can make a present for her mom… and naturally can’t think of anything. So she ends up making a necklace but she isn’t too happy with how it comes out so she and the others go to find a nice card to go with it. It’s at this point that Wolfrun attacks and he makes an Akanbe out of a bouquet of roses, a red nose one.

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It’s the best fight in Smile so far. Nice action and a good use of strategy, teamwork, and elemental powers from all the girls (aside from Happy who never uses her element in any fight, not sure why, she just never did). The girls finally stop being dumb and they don’t get reset after this anymore either… at least when it comes to fighting, they’re still dumb at school stuff. There’s some cqc with Wolfrun too, the first time they directly engage with one of the generals. The fight has a satisfying conclusion too and it uses the great instrumental version of the OP.

Wolfrun sees the gift Happy made and calls it crappy, saying no one would be happy to receive it. It actually gets Happy to start thinking the same and makes her sad but everyone else it just makes angry. Sunny and the others tell Wolfrun he’s wrong about Happy’s gift and she put a lot of feelings into it, so did all of they for their gifts to their moms, and that’s what’s more important than anything. Not just the quality of the gift. The girls defeat the Akanbe and get the Juice Decor.

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This was a sweet episode.

So episode 16 is an important one for Reika. FINALLY. She gets a real focus episode since her debut.

The other 4 girls are lamenting their poor test results, Reika of course is the head of the class and probably the smartest Cure in the franchise. When the girls wonder about the point of studying and doing good at school it makes Reika herself think about what she’s studying and doing this all for.

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We see Reika’s grandpa for the first time. Keeping in Precure tradition of grandparents being cool he’s always there to give her good advice. Reika decides to temporarily quit everything after talking with him, to find what she wants to do of her own free will. To find her Path. She always just did things out of obligation and because she was asked to, not because of her own desire. This is a surprisingly introspective episode for a show like Smile. While she’s announcing to the girls and other students that she’s quitting student council, archery etc. she almost spills the beans on Precure by saying she’s quitting that too. Smart Reika is but also lacking some sense. She’s quitting all this stuff because she doesn’t want to do anything half-heartedly. Nao sticks up for her and tells her to take a break from always being the responsible one and everyone tells her to do what she wants to. But she doesn’t know what she wants to do, she asks to follow around the others and see what they do.

Reika also ends up talking with Candy and Candy says that Reika always looked cool and happy when she was doing her regular stuff.

Joker comes by this episode too. Not for any really important reason, he just drops by and chats with Akaoni. For some reason Joker has a little more interaction with Akaoni than the other generals. Like Kawarino and Gamao. Akaoni then goes down to Earth to gather Bad Energy and he also creates a red nose Akanbe out of a quiz-book to fight the girls.

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Instead of fighting it like normal though it asks each of the girls a question and if they get it wrong they get trapped in a big red X. Akane is terrible at English, keep this in mind for later in Smile. This is somewhat similar to the quizzing Negatone in the Suite episode but the way the fight goes and the episode as a whole is very different.

Reika is late to the fight because she’s not sure what her true feelings on being a Precure and everything are. Does she really want to do it or is it just obligation? Eventually she does get there and although she tells everyone she still doesn’t know what she truly wants to do she can’t let evil people continue to do things like this.

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Beauty is able to easily answer every question the Akanbe throws at her. And when she gets one right the Akanbe takes damage instead, something Akaoni funnily did not know. Beauty says she will continue studying and learning all sorts of things and one day find what she really wants to do. She came to this from watching and learning from all her friends and their passions. She defeats the Akanbe and the girls get the Banana Decor. At the end of the episode Reika tries to get the others more interested in studying by tying it to things like art and soccer but it doesn’t exactly stick. I’m sorry Reika, you will forever be the only intelligent one on your team. I really like this episode and it’s an important start to Reika’s character arc.

Episode 17 now is pure filler. But it’s fun filler like always in Smile. So it’s also the manzai duo, very similar to Fresh’s but the duo in Smile is better, it feels like they get more into their roles and they have better jokes around them. Reika fills Setsuna’s position this episode too as she has absolutely no understanding of comedy, incidentally making her the funniest girl. And of course this episode has Akane at the center because being from Osaka she loves manzai. Even though her love of manzai is never brought up again. There is some awkward comedy this episode but it’s more than made up for by a lot of honestly fun and hilarious stuff and there’s a little nice action courtesy of Sunny’s fire-punching.

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The funniest part of the episode might be when one of the guys “transforms” into the 6th Cure. Couple other things to note is that the duo again like in Fresh find out the girls identities, Majorina also makes two Akanbe this episode, one blue and one red, and it involves an item she makes but it’s not a “lost item” episode. Wolfrun and Akaoni actually go down to Earth to take part in the manzai contest but don’t participate in the fight. It’s the first time all three of them actually go out and do something. In the second half of Smile some of the best episodes are the ones with all three of the generals together. In these situations Majorina usually leads them or occupies a special position, just like in episode 17. And at the end of the episode the girls get the Sports Decor.

Next up is episode 18, one of my favorite episodes. It’s the school sports festival and the 5-girl relay is a really hyped up event. However the class the girls are in is pretty defeatist about it because other classes have a bunch of track members. So Nao decides to nominate herself and the others are their classes relay team because she doesn’t like everyone giving up without trying.

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Again Joker randomly comes by to talk to Akaoni, he says the generals should work together but Akaoni refuses, saying something like that’s for weaklings. There’s some comedy this episode as Reika runs in place, forgetting to move, while the girls all practice for the relay. Reika’s brain works in interesting ways. Yayoi though is discouraged because she’s really slow compared to the others. Nao tells her she doesn’t really care about winning or losing, she wants Yayoi to just do her best. She nominated everyone with her because they’re her friends. Nao is not a super competitive person despite being on a sports team, what she likes about that kind of thing is the teamwork and working together parts. Akane is more competitive than Nao, Nao just wanted to enjoy the relay with her friends.

Yayoi is feeling better and improving from their practice but she overhears some other classmates talking about how they’re worried they;ll lose the relay because of her. They say the hardwork the girls have been putting in doesn’t matter in the end if they don’t win. The day of the sports festival arrives and Yayoi is still hesitant but Nao tells them all to combine their power and just run to the very end. Akaoni then attacks, I like how the fight occurs before the race. It’s a blue nose Akanbe episode. Smile is good at making unique fights using the attributes of what an Akanbe is made from and here the fight comes down to a tug-o-war battle between the girls and the Akanbe. So not only does it use the sports equipment items it’s made from but it also ties into the theme of teamwork this episode has as the girls have to work together against the Akanbe to win.

During the fight March’s determination to not give up, her desire to combine their powers and run with all her friends affects Yayoi and gets her to overcome her hesitation. She wont give up before she even tries either.

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During the relay things are going well and Yayoi gives it her best, even the other students in class start to cheer her. Finally it’s Nao as the anchor and she’s running with all her might, just being able to pull ahead into first place as the finish line comes up… and she trips. She tries to recover but they end in last place. It devastates Nao, who feels like she failed everyone who she got involved in the first place, everyone who put in so much hard work, everyone who worked to connect the baton to her.

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But everyone hugs her, crying together they congratulate Nao on never giving up and doing her best. It’s so heartwrenching and heartwarming at the same time. Nao does not like to show her weaknesses, and most of the time she can’t because she has to be the strong and dependable older sister. But with her friends she can let it all out.

Nao never shows her weaknesses to her siblings in Smile. They don’t know her silly fear of bugs or how she’s actually really girly. It must be tough on her.

So onto episode 19. It’s a Yayoi episode and back while Smile first aired people complained about there being two Yayoi episodes in a row but 18 really was more of Nao’s. 18 showed off how much of a “mom” she is to the others.

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This episode there’s a class assignment on the meaning of your name. Specifically the reasons why your family named you such. It’s also a Father’s Day episode. Yayoi though is concerned about it, her father named her but he died when she was young and she can’t remember why he named her Yayoi.

There’s some nice visuals and direction in this episode, a lot of it takes place while it’s raining and there’s some nice effects with it. The animation in the fight is very good too. We also see Nao’s dad, he’s a complete hunk while her mom is rather homely. So good job Nao’s mom on landing that guy.

Yayoi can vaguely remember speaking to her father as a kid about her name but in class all she can give is the general meaning of her name and where it comes from. Not why her father gave her the name.

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Also I feel this is important. And Reika’s name where her Grandpa gave her the name because he wanted her to have a beautiful heart. All of the girls names fit them to a tee of course (Nao’s being simple and direct which is important to her in ways too) but Miyuki’s and Reika’s tie in really closely to their character arcs and some stuff that happens with them down the road.

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Also there’s a shout-out to Heartcatch, Fairy Drop and Yayoi’s mom mentions a “Miss Kurumi”. Yayoi’s mom apparently either works with them or some kind of event company.

Wolfrun then comes down and makes a red nose Akanbe out of a gift Yayoi made for Father’s Day years ago. It’s a good fight, lots of hard-hitting action and it also shows that now the girls have gotten strong enough where using their attacks once no longer wipes them out like it used to.

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During the fight Yayoi remembers talking with her father. He wanted her to be kind like her mother so he gave her a name having to do with spring. Yeah Japanese naming stuff that I can’t be assed to explain. Look it up. Peace is feeling so strong now from the memories of her father that the lightning that usually scares her when she’s attacking doesn’t bother her and she defeats the Akanbe. (She still gets frightened by it in most episodes, they didn’t completely switch out the stock).

The girls get the Cherry Decor. 1 more to go.

Episode 20 is another complete filler one with one very minor thing of note at the end. It’s the third Majorina’s Lost Item episode. Candy picks up a camera and takes a picture of Miyuki and Akane, turning them invisible, and then running off scared when she think’s they’re ghosts, dropping the camera. Like the last one Candy is the source of all problems.

However in the Bad End Kingdom this time it was Wolfrun who threw the camera out. For no reason. He literally just says “I threw that away”. At least Akaoni had some sort of stupid reason. We learn Nao is afraid of ghosts, because of course she is. I wouldn’t be surprised if she was scared of her own shadow. This episode is hilarious and the best comedy comes from Akane messing with Nao and then later Majorina doing the same thing to Akane.

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The super serious Reika of course views this messing around as especially despicable.

Before that though when Majorina goes looking for the item at the police officers place he actually has it this time. She uses it to turn herself invisible. This is the first time she’s able to effectively use the item herself against the Precure. In another turn around it’s Candy who sees her using it and follows her. When the girls all come together Majorina also uses the camera on Miyuki and Akane to return them to normal so they can’t see her.

The fight is pretty fun too as Majorina makes a blue nose Akanbe out of a jack-in-the-box and then turns it invisible, she also throws natto-gyoza candy into Candy’s mouth so she can’t sniff them out. But ever the smart one, Beauty uses her attack to make snow fall to reveal it so the girls can defeat it.

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After that we see that Joker has been watching the girls again, he thinks that Candy possesses some sort of special secret after seeing her activate Rainbow Healing so many times and he wants to discover what it is. Then the episode ends on a cute little gag as Candy finds another camera left on the ground and Miyuki and Akane not suspecting anything let her take their picture again. Promptly turning them invisible and making Candy run off in fear of the “ghosts” again. While back in the Bad End Kingdom Majorina looks for her backup camera and Wolfrun nonchalantly tells her he threw that away too.

And now things heat up. Next episode is still pretty normal for the most part but by the end the mid-season climax begins.

So it’s Tanabata and there’s only 1 more Decor to go. Pop comes to visit them because of this and in the Bad End Kingdom Joker is preparing his endgame. Also the girls have switched over to their summer outfits. I think I prefer their other clothes.

Pop is excited that the revival of the Queen is close so she can defeat Pierrot for good. He and some of the girls are worried about things but Miyuki tells them all the future will never meet a bad end. They’ll create a pure white future and she uses the Precure book with them as the main characters to illustrate her point, the next pages are blank and just waiting to be filled in by them.

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The girls tell Pop about Tanabata and he tells them about Marchenland’s Pegasus Day. You make a wish to the star filled sky and the Pegasus that flies through it will grant your wish. REMEMBER THIS.

The girls have Pop and Candy write Tanabata wishes, they’ve already written their own fun ones. Candy thinks back on meeting all the girls and how glad she is to have them and makes her wish “To always play with Miyuki and the others”. Miyuki also takes the Star Decor out of the Decor Decor and uses it to decorate the Tananbata tree.

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Joker muses about Candy and the Miracle Jewels and tells Akaoni to go down to Earth to fight the Precure. Meanwhile the girls are stargazing, Miyuki says she ultra happy to have met Candy because that also let her meet everyone else. Some shooting stars go by and everyone makes a wish. Candy wishes to always be with the girls but says her Tanabata wish is a secret.

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Akaoni then comes in, gathering bad energy and insulting the girls silly wishing. Miyuki tells him that the desire to have your wish come true is the power to believe in the future. They transform and he creates a formidable looking Akanbe. This is a good fight. Similar to the one in episode 15 there’s a good amount of teamwork, cqc with the Akanbe and a good use of elemental powers.

The girls have trouble with this Akanbe but refuse to give up against it because they know everything riding on this fight. They will revive the Queen and save Marchenland, the home of their precious friend Candy, and achieve a future filled with smiles.

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Happy gets pumped and fires a strong Happy Shower which is met by an energy blast from the Akanbe. I love clashes of attacks like this and villains/monsters doing their damnedest to hold them off, Smile is the first season to do a good amount of this since Splash Star. The other girls then join in behind Happy and fire off their attacks, all of them joining into one to overpower and obliterate the Akanbe. Getting them the final Sunflower Decor.

The girls, Candy and Pop all gather around to put the final Decor in and revive the Queen-

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And then Joker swoops in and steals them all out from under their noses. Talk about a mood whiplash. He tells the girls that Pierrot will soon be revived and then he grabs Candy with his magical cards, adding insult to injury he tells them none of their wishes will come true and teleports away, cackling madly. The first encounter with Joker does not go well for our heroines and now Smile is about to get real serious for the first time.

I remember people’s reactions to the next episode preview for episode 22, the hype was real. Everyone wanted to see Joker in action and some of the… disturbing images from the preview made people even more excited. This guy is one serious Precure villain.

So now onto our two-part mid-season climax. When Smile gets serious it gets real serious. Even dark for Precure standards, especially when Joker is involved and it’s here where he shows his true colors.

The girls and Pop are despondent over what just happened. However Miyuki shows them they still have the Star Decor that she put on the tree earlier. Looking at the tree the girls see Candy’s wish and how she also wrote wishes for them. Miyuki tells them not to lose hope yet and they resolve to get Candy. Pop transports them to Marchenland, they have to go there first before they can get to the Bad End Kingdom.

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In the Bad End Kingdom Joker interrogates Candy on the Miracle Jewels but Candy doesn’t know anything. Getting annoyed he notices that the Decor Decor is missing one and he goes to Marchenland to not just get it but also defeat the Precure and get the last bit of Bad Energy needed to revive Pierrot.

Marchenland is pretty but all the people are scared and hiding away in their houses. The girls are getting ready to go when Joker appears before them. He gets rid of the formalities pretty quickly and demands the last Decor. The girls transform and fight him but they can do absolutely nothing. They’re completely outmatched and they’ve never fought someone as skilled as he is, not only that but he can use his cards as weapons/shields etc. Joker treats the fight like a joke. Using his cards he absorbs their attacks and fires them back at the girls, leaving them defeated and unable to fight anymore. First use of “despair faces” in Smile, they get used some more when serious things happen.

And now is when things get really bad. Joker grabs the last Decor and prepares to gather the Bad Energy. He psychologically torments the girls and breaks them down, saying they have no hope and no chance of beating Pierrot, he frightens them and I wouldn’t be surprised if he frightened all the little girls watching. In the end he says they have only one thing left:

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Bad Energy comes from the girls and Joker gathers it all up, thanking them for the despair and returning to the Bad End Kingdom. This scene was shocking when everyone first saw it.

Afterwards Akane and Nao think of going to save Candy but Reika and Yayoi give voice to some concerns. Can they really win? What will happen to them? Can they return to Earth? They’re really not used to something like this, they’ve never been in such a serious and dangerous situation. The fact that they have to go through this is what made me really start to love and care about the characters. I always liked them but these episodes really made me care for the Smile girls.

All of the girls are scared. But what about Candy? Miyuki asks them. But what about their families too? Nao wonders what does Candy mean to them? Will they go after her even if it means possibly leaving everything else. Pop is determined to get Candy but knows how hopeless it is, he cries over his sister.

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Miyuki doesn’t know what to do either. She tells everyone to think long and hard about this. To find what’s most important to them. What choices can they make. Pop tells them they can only travel to the Bad End Kingdom during a full moon, which is tonight, so he’ll wait for them tonight. The girls go off on their own and think about Candy, and what it means to go after her. What the consequences could be, what despair means. Miyuki wants everyone to be together and she remembers Candy’s wish to play with them always. Miyuki thinks of all the ultra happy moments she has had since meeting Candy. The girls look at Candy’s wishes for them, all about wanting to do fun stuff together. They come to the conclusion that they don’t want to lose their friends, family, Candy or anything. No matter what may come. They resolve to win.

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They still aren’t sure what’s truly important but they do love Candy. Just as much as anything else. Miyuki says they’ll all be together, a future with everyone will be ultra happy. The others feel the same way. It’s time to go to the Bad End Kingdom.

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At that time though Joker gives the last feeding of Bad Energy to Pierrot and he begins to revive…

What a spectacular episode. it hits all the right notes and proves Smile can be great at anything. Another thing I like is that you can see a bunch of balloons in Marchenland and some other stuff and they all utilize the five colors of the girls. Smile is still the champion of the little things.

Episode 23 comes next, the big explosive episode with the best fights in Smile. It’s one of, if not the, most action-packed episode in the franchise and also has some of the greatest animation you’ll see in Precure. It’s a highly satisfying and memorable episode.

As Pop flies the girls to the Bad End Kingdom (He’s transformed into a huge bird, Syrup 2.0) the generals prepare for their arrival. When the girls get there they transform and are face by the three Bad End generals, right between them and Candy, the others tell Happy to go to Candy and they’ll handle these stooges.

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Sunny vs Wolfrun

Peace vs. Akaoni

March vs Majorina

Beauty & Pop vs Joker

Majorina can turn herself younger for direct fights. The generals power themselves up with their Bad End Space too. All of these fights are great.

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Happy jumps across a lake of lava to get to Candy but Joker has lain a trap, a yellow nose Akanbe made out of the Decor Decor. In the fights you can see all the different styles of the combatants clearly, Wolfrun and Akaoni are really direct, Majorina can make copies of herself and Joker just toys with Beauty the whole time. He makes himself a sword too. The girls have a lot of trouble with the generals and Joker, they’re not exactly used to fighting like this yet. Joker tells Beauty this whole fight is pointless, he even shows her that he still carries the final Decor with him so the girls can’t do anything. But even with all this the girls absolutely refuse to give up. They’ll stop the generals from leaving them and getting to Happy no matter what. Peace is crying and she’s scared but she wont run away. Losing everyone scares her more than anything. The girls all say they’ll win here, rescue Candy and all go home together as planned. They have learned what’s most important.

They’ll give anything for each other, their friends. Friends give them the power to do anything. Happy says they, their friends, their families all have to be together, that’s what makes her ultra happy. SHINE! SMILE PRECURE!!!!

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The burst of power allows the girls to pull out everything they have, scenes from the opening theme song get used, Sunny holding a massive boulder above her head ready to smash Wolfrun, Peach shocking Akaoni, March running across a wall dodging enemy attacks and of course, the hypest moment in the whole season:

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ICE SWORD ICE SWORD ICE SWORD!!!!!!

The girls are able to defeat the generals, March even throws out like a hundred attacks at once to show how far the girls have gotten and Beauty is able to narrowly defeat Joker with the timely intervention of Pop. Happy destroys the yellow nose Akanbe and gets the Decor Decor back while Beauty has the Star Decor now. Happy rescues Candy but something begins to rise from the lava… they meet back up with the other girls and put the Star Decor in the box… but nothing happens. Now what?

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Pierrot has returned. He fires a massive energy beam at the girls, Pop says it could destroy a whole planet, the girls use Rainbow Healing to try and hold it off but it doesn’t even last a second and the blast sweeps them away. Candy watches this on Pop’s back and cries out that the Precure will never be defeated! They’ll protect everyone’s smiles! Happy hears this and repeats it herself and then the Decor Decor lights up! The girls hear the voice of the Royale Queen, who tells them the power of the Pegasus has been bestowed to them.

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The girls transform into their Princess Forms and use their new attack, Precure Rainbow Burst, to utterly vaporize Pierrot. Seeing their victory they look on to the horizon and then turn to hug Candy, they’ve won, and all of them will happily leave together and be friends forever.

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Fantastic episode, just an action filled adventure from beginning to end. Rainbow Burst is one of the best attacks in the franchise, everything about it is just awesome. This episode really sets up a lot of things in the future and solidifies the villain rivalries. It also features the first instance of Happy’s signature scene, where she’s being attacked/crushed by a monster and she pushes back up against it while delivering a rousing speech. Smile is a big fan of repetition and it does this twice more to great affect.

But wait a second?

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Didn’t something come out of Pierrot’s body as he died?

So that’s the first half of Smile and now it’s time to talk about a whole bunch of stuff in the show before moving on to episode 24 and the next story arc.

First of all how about all those little things Smile has added in to make every episode a bit more fun and getting the audience involved. The first thing would be the multiple eyecatches, changing Cures each episode in them and sometimes having an Akanbe appear in them. Then the different endings, one for each girl. Smile was the first season to do something like this. And of course biggest of all is Peace doing rock-paper-scissors every time she transforms, for those watching Smile I invite you all to play along with her and see if you can win. Smile is just all about making you have a good experience and it’s not just this stuff but things like the way characters move or their funny reactions to things. The girls are very expressive and there’s a lot of funny poses and reactions from them throughout the whole show. Expressive is a good word for Smile’s art style. Expressive and vibrant. The way Smile incorporates scenes/images from it’s opening theme songs into some episodes is also great, it’s not the first season to do that but it does it the most and best. Speaking of that in the opening there’s a giant monstrous hand in the sky, obviously Pierrot’s even though it doesn’t look anything like his hands (wonder why that could be?), that I’ve always thought was a shout-out to Max Heart’s opening where the Dark King’s hand slams down on the planet. There’s a lot of care and love put into each episode of Smile, that fact really shines through through all of the little things added in. I already mentioned how much the Decor get used too. Mostly just for silly/pointless things in the first half but after around episode 30 the Decor start to get used in a more meaningful way.

Smile occasionally has some bad writing like when the girls’ intelligence gets reset back when the blue Akanbe first appear. The writing is never as tight as Splash Star’s and it lacks the deeper characters of Fresh and Heartcatch but it’s not a poorly written show at all. The writers are exceptionally good at creating whatever kind of episode and atmosphere to go along with it that they want. And now that they’ve proven they can do serious things like the mid-season climax it sets the stage for other serious episodes and arcs down the road.

So as for our main girls they are all silly and lovable. There’s not much development to be had here, Yayoi is the only one who really grows as a person, Nao maybe a little, the others just learn things about themselves. They get fleshed out a lot, they just don’t change. Candy actually has a ton of character development but it hasn’t happened yet. I can understand the people who dislike her at this point but she just never really bothered me. There aren’t really any civilian side characters important enough to mention yet. Nao’s siblings are important but it’s not like they appear much. Smile is a simple show in more ways than one, that’s true for our heroines as well. Another thing about the Smile girls is that they never argue with each other, they never get in fights and all of them get along super well super fast. Even Saki and Mai fought in the movie of Splash Star but Miyuki, Akane, Yayoi, Nao and Reika never do. There is no inter-team conflict in Smile. It’s so weird to see that considering Yonemura made Kabuto which was full of Rider & Rider drama. The individual relations of the girls are also stressed less. Although Nao and Reika are childhood friends they aren’t made to really have a special relationship, there are little moments and lines that show they clearly know more about each other than the others but there isn’t a huge special friendship between them compared to the others. Not like Komachi and Karen. There just aren’t special relationships, everyone is like equal friends. No Love and Setsuna or Hibiki and Kanade. Partly this is because they all 5 became Cures at nearly the same time. The Smile team is just a big ball of friendship.

So how about the villains? Well there’s literally nothing to say about Pierrot yet aside from I like his design. From an out of series perspective though I find it funny that he’s voiced by Tessho Genda. Genda voices the Kyuubi in Naruto and I feel like it’s all a big Toei in-joke that they decided to name him Pierrot (Studio Pierrot makes the Naruto anime and Pierrot and the Kyuubi have some other similarities but that’s getting into spoiler territory so I’ll save it for later). Joker is the best serious minion in the franchise. Better than Kawarino, Northa, Dark Precure, etc. He’s just the best. He’s so damn entertaining and so damn creepy and evil. He has some of the best moments in the show. And then there’s our generals. Wolfrun is honestly another one of the best villains of the franchise, he fits any situation perfectly and can be hilarious or threatening when the episode calls for it. He’s normally a silly villain and just a jerk but there’s a darker side to him, you can see this in his vicious fight with Sunny in episode 23. Of all three generals he’s the best and gets the most development too, although not for a while. Akaoni is fun, he’s a really good version of the dumb brute villain you see a lot of. Majorina is also really fun, she has a lot of good episodes and her running gags are funny. Her younger form also has huge breasts. After here the villains start feeling more like rivals to the Cures than standard enemies. Yeah they still want to defeat them and gather Bad Energy but they also end up just messing around with them in some episodes and competing with them in shit. Some of the situations they get into is hilarious.

The action in Smile is varied. When it first came out people said it had the worst fighting ever (which was never true and certainly isn’t now) but it’s more that it keeps the serious fighting for serious moments and otherwise is fine with doing something new and wacky. Smile was the first season to have some monsters defeated without a single attack of any sort before stock footage, instead it would do something like them tiring the monster out or in the second half running around screaming their heads off inside its body for example. The Akanbe designs are not the best, there are a few really good ones but a lot of others are basically just a clown face attached to an object, but Smile was good at incorporating what they’re made from into the fights. Smile had a lot of unique “fights” and that’s part of what made it so fun to watch. Although if you were expecting Heartcatch action you’d obviously be disappointed. And of course the girls use their elemental powers a fair bit, not a ton and of course this isn’t groundbreaking for the franchise but it’s another thing to enjoy about the action. Beauty as well is the second Cure to use a sword in combat. It’s also really fun to see over the course of the first half how the girls become better fighters and also just get stronger. No longer are they hampered by their “one attack per transformation” they’ve got full control of their Precure powers now and as far as teamwork goes their one of the best teams. It’s so nice that they don’t use wands for their normal attacks.

I’ve already said really everything I need to about Smile’s stock footage. So how about it’s music? Well the music is good certainly but not one of the best soundtracks, it’s passable but not exceptional. The one really standout piece is the instrumental version of the opening theme song that gets used in fights. That is kickass and it’s one of the best battle themes the franchise has. It gets used a lot in the first half, including episode 23, but after that is only used two more times. However the two times it’s used are really big, awesome, important moments so it’s more like they saved it for those. Also there are two different instrumental versions of the OP that get used to great effect in the second half too.

Smile is not especially deep with its themes. Everything is very clear cut and the girls repeat them a lot. Smile is big on speeches. Miyuki too is like the opposite of Hibki, always getting grand moments. The biggest thing to remember is all the girls wish to be together. They and Candy want to have fun and play together forever, that desire is what allowed them to win in episode 23. Besides that their is a general theme of friendship like always for Precure, Smile takes it pretty extreme but it’s still no different than any other season.

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Getting back to Smile the second half begins with episode 24. The girls think they’ve completely won but the Queen still didn’t get revived. Instead they got the power of the Pegasus. So now they’re in Marchenland and they go see that the Queen is stuck as ahuge statue, I’d say this is a Queen of Light from Futari Wa reference, no one knows why she hasn’t woken up. While they’re here Pop and Candy offer to show the girls around Marchenland.

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Pop and Candy don’t want the girls to scare the other fairies so Pop uses his magic to turn them into fairies. It is adorable. They even give themselves little things to add at the end of their sentences like Candy’s kuru. Candy shows them around while Pop goes to research why the Queen hasn’t awaken. There’s just a lot of cuteness this episode, the girls see a lot of fairies representing fairy tales like Little Red Hiding Hood and Momotaro. When the girls are snacking on the candy house from Hansel and Gretel the magic accidentally wears off. The fairies are surprised but quickly get along with the girls. One of the fairies mentions something called the Miracle Jewel that grants wishes.

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While this is happening we see that thing that came out of Pierrot drifting through what looks like space but must just be some part of the Bad End Kingdom. Joker picks up the floating Pierrot egg, he was only momentarily incapacitated by Beauty Blizzard, and then finds the three generals. Unlike him they’re still out and he uses a burst of dark energy to resuscitate them. He tells the three that Pierrot was unable to fully revive in his true form because the Precure interrupted him, this might seem like a copout but when you see what happens in the finale it makes a lot of sense. The generals get pissed over having lost to the Cures but Joker tells them to relax, now they’ll fully revive Pierrot in his perfect form. Joker grabs two Akanbe noses and squeezes them into one big one. This new Akanbe will be stronger but difficult to control. Wolfrun grabs it and prepares to go fight the Precure and gather Bad Energy but Joker also tells him that this time he wants them all to search for the Miracle Jewel.

The girls ask the fairies about the Jewels, they tell them it’s a legend in Marchenland and the Miracle Jewel can supposedly grant any wish. That’s when Wolfrun comes in, the girls are surprised to see him and he gathers Bad Energy from the fairies and creates a Super Akanbe from the candy house.

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The first Super Akanbe clearly references the first Akanbe back in episode 1. I like this, it’s a nice touch. Smile does a lot of repetition in the best ways.

The Super Akanbe is really strong and gives the girls a lot of trouble, their normal attacks are completely ineffective against it, it just out-muscles them. But it’s also really wild and attacks Wolfrun too. Still the girls have been through a lot at this point and something like this isn’t enough to get them down, they easily recover and say how they’ll protect everyone still. This desire allows them to get the power of the Pegasus again, transforming into their Princess Forms and using Rainbow Burst on the Super Akanbe to totally blow it away and get two Decor.

They then hear the Queen’s voice again, she tells them she still can’t awaken, she used the power of the last group of Decor to give the girls the power of the Pegasus. She tells them she needs more to revive fully but that at the same time Pierrot is consolidating his power to complete his true revival as well. Miyuki says that together they’ll get the Decor and triumph and the girls all head back to Earth.

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The first thing that comes to mind when watching episode 24 is: RESET BUTTON

New clock, new batch of Decor needed, same villains, same heroes, very similar monsters. Nothing changes in Smile. Fun, simple, easy to understand. That is Smile for better and for worse. This episode killed the enthusiasm for Smile when it aired. People hated Smile after this. I blame it mostly on their own poor misconceptions and desires for what the show should be but there’s still no arguing that this was a controversial episode. And then there are some things that don’t make a lot of sense, where’d Joker get those new Akanbe noses from? Did he always have more than 16 red ones? It’s kind of confusing cause there are some new Decor and some of them are the same. Who knows. I’m more forgiving of this for Smile though than I would be for a season like Suite or Doki. It might be intentionally nonsensical. As a positive some good new music was featured this episode. I mean the episode itself is not actually bad or anything it’s just the whole plot reset thing. Things like Pierrot needing less Bad Energy this time and the Queen choosing to give the girls the power of the Pegasus instead of just reviving actually make a lot of sense and have good explanations but not till later in the show. Oh yeah and that whole thing about Joker asking the generals to find the Miracle Jewels? Yeah ignore that. Wolfrun asks about them once this episode and then that whole plot point is completely dropped. Miracle Jewels aren’t mentioned again for another 8 episodes.

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And so with episode 25 summer vacation has arrived. And you know what summer means for Smile right? Absolutely nothing. The episodes are a lot of fun but there isn’t much going on and only a little development for the girls. The summer arc of Smile is probably technically the weakest part of the season but every episode is enjoyable at least so there’s that.

The opening has changed slightly, it removed the old visuals that were inserted into the fights in episode 23 and replaced them with the girls using Rainbow Burst. The ending has changed completely into a new song, it’s also very cute and catchy and has different versions for each girl.

So in this episode all the girls are at the beach, still no swimsuits of course… except for Candy. Miyuki got a call from Akane, Nao and Reika are working at a shaved ice stand and Akane is working on her family’s Okonomiyaki stand there. She called Miyuki to help her out. Yayoi also happens to arrive at the beach today, just out of coincidence. The two tomboys start to get a little competitive with each other. I don’t think this is too out of character for Nao since it’s all good-natured and she’s still just having fun with a friend. It’s more problematic when during the fight they both try to one-up the other and don’t work together, that’s out of character for Nao and Akane. Still the fight is good and the rest of the episode is funny. The Super Akanbe doesn’t listen to Akaoni at all. There isn’t any malice behind the one-upping either like there would be between Rin and Karen so it’s not like they’ve had an actual fight or anything. Nao and Akane are usually put together because they’re so similar, whether it be lines they get, having the same reaction to something, or just put in a different spot/role than the others, and often play the straight man to the other girls fools. Still if one were to watch Smile and another season you would see that they still don’t have as close/unique a relationship as some other seasons have with certain pairs of girls. It’s all still a big ball of even friendship in Smile.

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The next episode is the summer festival. Just fun and silly stuff the whole episode. Nothing else to say, the girls look cute in their yukatas and the natto gyoza candy makes a return. It’s cute how during the ring toss they get colored rings that match them. It’s also Majorina’s first Super Akanbe and just like with Wolfrun it throws some attacks at her. However the next few aren’t problematic like the first three.

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Episode 27 then has the girls go visit Miyuki’s grandmother who lives alone in the countryside. This is a pretty episode and it has a sort of strange mystical feeling to it. It’s a bit different for Precure which usually don’t have supernatural things outside of stuff directly related to the Precure part of the show, GoGo with Santa Claus being a big exception. Anyways her grandma tells them that Tengu and Kappa live around this place (which scares Nao of course) and they have to give them offerings and be nice to the youkai. In her grandma’s stories the youkai are always helpful to children in return. Miyuki’s love of stories comes from her grandma always telling her them when she was young. Miyuki wants her grandma to come live with her and her parents but her grandma says she likes it here, she says she has her treasure here. Miyuki asks what it is but she says it’s a secret.

Meanwhile Wolfrun is hot from being covered in fur during summer. He decides to go cool off in the mountains. While he’s dunking his feet in the river he actually gets accosted by a Kappa (that doesn’t appear on screen) and runs off, shit just keeps happening to Wolfrun. He ends up stumbling across the girls and Miyuki’s grandma, he wasn’t even planning on fighting today or anything, it just happened. Miyuki’s grandma though isn’t scared of him and it annoys him, she even calls him cute and the other girls laugh at him.

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He tries to gather Bad Energy from here and uh… it doesn’t go so well. It’s hilarious as he repeatedly tries to get some from her only to see her keep pleasantly smiling. It even cuts to the Pierrot clock to show that it didn’t move at all, Wolfrun fails to get any Bad Energy this episode. I love how Smile does some change ups like this and it also shows how planned out the season is.

Miyuki’s grandma says that she can’t be despairing, even if there are bad days they’ll get better, just keep smiling and happiness will come your way. She’s like Miyuki and her will is strong. She then goes to make lunch so Wolfrun makes a Super Akanbe. Happy says she wont let Wolfrun destroy her grandma’s treasure, which she thinks is the land and fields and mountain around her, but Sunny then questions why she would need to keep that a secret. The Super Akanbe gets the upper hand on the girls but a sudden wind from the mountains comes down and knocks it over into the water, and then it gets attacked by the Kappa from before. Happy thinks that must have been the Tengu’s wind too, the youkai came to help them, the girls aren’t entirely sure what’s going on but they use the opportunity to destroy the Super Akanbe. This kind of thing fits in Smile with its fairy tale theme, it’s not as weird as Santa Claus existing or anything like that. At the end of the episode Miyuki thinks about her grandmas treasure but decides not to question her on it.

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For episode 28 the girls are at school during their summer vacation for some sort of work. The teacher tells the class not to forget their summer homework. Yayoi has a book on ghosts and school and of course Nao is afraid. However Miyuki also is not too fond of ghosts. Seeing this all Akane says they should have a test of courage at the school. In the Bad End Kingdom Majorina is also reading about ghosts and decides to go scare some humans to gather Bad Energy from them.

This episode has some good direction with the way it uses shadows and angles, it gives it a unique look.

The girls investigate some of the mysteries of the school (despite being a crybaby Yayoi is actually super excited by the possibility of ghosts, I suppose crybaby doesn’t equal scaredy-cat, Candy also says she isn’t scared at all but that quickly changes) but little do they know Majorina is watching them and she uses two Super Akanbe noses at once to transform the whole school building into a huge Super Akanbe. Nao though is tired of being afraid of… well, everything, and wants to try and overcome her fear. A lot of fun and silly stuff goes on in this episode cause Majorina messes with Nao and Miyuki and Reika is always trying to find a “logical explanation” even when they see a painting move and talk to them.

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We also get to briefly see Majorina’s young form again. It’s a funny episode and I think my favorite part is when Beauty tells Happy and March to not run in the hallways when they’re already in the middle of a fight. Reika takes rules seriously.

Speaking of the “fight” it boils down to Happy and March running around screaming their heads off while being chased by a bunch of “ghost” blue nose Akanbe. It’s just hilarious. They run forwards, back, up, down, sideways all throughout the Super Akanbe’s body so much that it tickles it and it opens its mouth laughing, letting the girls all escape it. When they get out they prepare for a real fight but the thing is too damn big and unwieldy to even move and so they just blast it with Rainbow Burst and get 4 Decor all at once. Majorina earlier also gathered some Bad Energy from the kids around school. However after this we find out there’s something that all the girls are really terrified of!

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Homework. All the girls except of course for Reika haven’t finished their summer homework yet! Uh-oh, what are they gonna do now?

Nao this episode at least tried to overcome her fear of everything even if it didn’t go super well, keep up the hard work Nao, you’re getting there!

Super fun episode time! Episode 29 is like the epitome of what makes a Smile episode. Hilarious and enjoyable from beginning to end and filled with a bunch of cute little gags.

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It’s the last day before summer vacation ends so instead of doing their homework like they should be the girls are messing around and planning to go to the amusement park, they actually run into their teacher while they’re goofing off but they lie and tell her they finished everything. Candy finds a die on the ground and Miyuki comes over and rolls it and they all get transported to some strange amusement park looking place. It’s a Majorina Lost Item episode but this time Miyuki was the one who got them all trapped in here and as the girls can see Majorina is also forcing Wolfrun and Akaoni to help her look for the die because they tossed it out again. The girls knew it must’ve been something weird like this again. Majorina tells them they have to play games to get out, win them all by 6:30 or they can’t leave. God the villains and Cures almost free like friendly enemies or something at this point. This is what I mean by rivals, this kind of silly competition that goes on between them in some episodes rather than just straight up conflict. And of course all three of the generals are together for this episode, ones with all of them are always a lot of fun cause not only do they have great chemistry with the Cures they work great with each other as well.

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Unlike in GoGo where Mucardia rigged his games so all the Cures lost in Smile the generals rig theirs but the Cures still beat them. It’s pretty funny. The girls transform for their games, they really want to get out of here and finish their homework so they don’t have to take make-up classes. Also in this episode there are a bunch of green nose Akanbe, they only appear in this episode so they must be purely constructed from Majorina’s item.

There are so many cute split-second gags too. Wolfrun dog paddling while he swims, Beauty doing some ice-skating, Majorina liking Peace’s drawing of her more than Wolfrun’s, March headbutting her attack instead of kicking it to create a whirlwind, etc. It’s also funny how they all use their attacks in unique ways to win the games. Again this is a similar format and episode plot to a previous seasons episode but done completely differently, as Smile does.

The girls get through the games but it’s almost 6:30.

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The last thing they have to do… is ride the Ferris wheel. Majorina turns it into a Super Akanbe and says they just have to go around it once and say Ultra Happy when they’re finished. But while riding it it generates illusions of the girls forced to take remedial classes and being scolded by their teacher, then it shows how they just lazed around all summer and didn’t do their homework. Majorina made the item specifically for this reason. At the end the girls are depressed and can’t say it, except for Candy and Beauty! Beauty says that even though the others didn’t do their work this will be an important lesson for them and in the future they wont make the same mistake, and she says how she’ll help them all finish their summer homework once they’re out of here. The girls say Ultra Happy now and the Super Akanbe tries to attack them but they blow it away with Rainbow Burst. And the villains didn’t even gather any Bad Energy this episode either.

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Unfortunately though… the girls had way too much unfinished homework for Reika to help them. They’re forced to take make-up classes and get scolded by the teacher. Do your homework kids!

Episode 30 next is also a really fun episode. None of the girls really traveled anywhere special for summer so they decide to use the bookcase to go all around the world. It’s the only episode to really use the bookcase like this. Kind of a wasted opportunity but at least this episode makes it fun.

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Reika is again a walking guidebook who knows everything about where they’re going, the other girls mostly ignore her though. Big eater Nao has a massive amount of food everywhere they travel to. You can hear sirens in the background when they travel to New York.

Joker reappears this episode though, he tells Akaoni that Pierrot is mad at him for failing to defeat the Precure so Akaoni goes out to defeat them this time. Joker seems to be planning something to defeat the girls because he knows they have almost all the Decor again.

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Candy photobombs all the girls pictures… only for Akaoni to then do it in the last one. He ambushes them on the amazon river and gathers Bad Energy from the animals and then creates the last Super Akanbe from a piranha. Which attacks him, just for fun. The girls can’t fight it well in the water and it actually swallows Candy.

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But from inside the Super Akanbe Candy uses the Dolphin Decor to turn the girls into mermaids. GoGo also had the girls turned into mermaids during the Little Mermaid episode but in that one they’re mermaids before they transform and they lose the tails when they do. In Smile the girls actually fight as mermaids and they’re really underwater. They eventually defeat the Super Akanbe and get the last two Decor.

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Joker isn’t concerned though, he seems to have finished work on creating what appears to be a black Akanbe nose. And at Miyuki’s house they put the last two Decor in the box but instead of the Queen reviving a strange clock like thing appears.

Next episode begins a big two-parter. It opens with something of a flash forward, Candy is in a pleasant dream but can hear everyone calling out to her, when she wakes up she sees them lying on the ground defeated. After that we go back to the girls and the clock.

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Obviously none of the girls know what it is and Candy of course has no idea either. We briefly see Joker in the Bad End Kingdom say that he will stop the Queen from fully reviving, he seems to know something about the clock. The girls share a cookie with each other and Candy, even though they only get small pieces Miyuki says it tastes even better when you share with your friends. Then Pop arrives, he knows about the item… sort of. It’s called the Royal Clock and should give the Cures new power but he has no idea how to get it to work.

We go back to Joker and he shows the generals the black Akanbe nose. It’s made from covering a red nose with the black paint, it will create a Hyper Akanbe that’s stronger than the Super Akanbe and will be 100% under their control. And most importantly it will be completely immune to Rainbow Burst. Joker also tells them that Pierrot is mad at them for their continuous failure and he might just “erase” them if they don’t get their act together. He gives Wolfrun the black nose and tells him to go fight.

While Pop is poking around the Royal Clock a projection of the Queen comes out of it. She tells the Precure that they and Candy need to bring out even more of their strength to awaken the true power of the Royal Clock.

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Wolfrun goes and gathers some Bad Energy to draw out the girls and when they come he creates a Hyper Akanbe out of an excavator, he jumps into its mouth and merges with it. This seems to cause him some pain though. The Hyper Akanbe lives up to its name and it’s too tough for the girls to deal with.

Candy wants to help but Pop says that they cant use the Clock yet, they need to draw out Candy’s power. Joker, who was spying on them while Wolfrun fought, hears this…

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And captures Candy inside of something called a Neglect Ball. Inside the ball Candy is in an illusory world  where she just plays around and can be carefree. She forgets all pain and suffering, Joker says this is the Bad End Pierrot envisions. Which makes sense later. When Joker says that Candy will never want to leave such a place Happy says that things cant be happy all the time but you cant run away, what Candy’s experiencing isn’t true happiness, she’s isn’t smiling for real. The Precure say that Candy will wake up and get out of there and inside the Neglect Ball Candy hears their voices.

The girls try to use Rainbow Burst on the Hyper Akanbe but it doesn’t work.

Inside the Neglect Ball though Candy starts to snap out of it. She remembers what Miyuki said about shared food between friends being even better and the limitless candy and fun she’s having feels empty compared to that. She remembers all her friends and realizes she needs to go back to them. Even though things will be difficult Candy wants to be with everyone and she breaks out.

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However we see the scene from the beginning, the girls and Pop are all lying on the ground defeated. It surprised Joker that Candy broke free but now he thinks it doesn’t matter anyways.

But to everyone’s surprise…

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Seeing this causes a new power to awaken in Candy, the power of the Phoenix. Its light washes over the girls and semi-activates the Royal Clock, making it emit a light that causes the black paint to peel off the Akanbe.

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Happy gets up and uses Happy Shower to obliterate it. Wolfrun comes out of it and although it doesn’t seem like Happy’s attack itself damaged him the use of the Hyper Akanbe seems to have harmed his body.

The Royal Queen then speaks to Candy in a sort of dream, telling her never to give up and treasure all her precious friends and feelings. Things are looking pretty good for our heroines but then-

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Joker captures Akane, Yayoi, Nao and Reika in another Neglect Ball and the episode ends.

Episode 32 is such a magnificent episode. It has similarities to the mid-season climax of Yes5 but does some things better, and worse too, but it differentiates itself enough. Yes5 did a really good thing by showing us the individual “nightmares” every girl had and this episode of Smile doesn’t do that but it does show the past individual moments they had been upset. And the moment at the table with all of the brainwashed girls and the candy is better done in Smile and makes more sense than it did in Yes5. The music for this episode is also perfect and it has some really good directing and visuals. It has the second time Happy pushes up against an enemy and delivers a grand speech, just like she did in episode 23.

Joker explains that with this Neglect Ball without any pain and worries you’ll stop working and fall into sloth, forgetting everything. Miyuki decides to willingly jump in after the others.

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Miyuki finds herself at “school” (she’s immediately affected by the Neglect Ball and can’t remember exactly what’s going on) everyone else is there but things are a little off. Akane doesn’t care about volleyball and their teacher tells them to just go have fun at the amusement park. Miyuki can tell something is wrong but can’t put her finger on it, it’s like a fever dream.

Outside of this Candy jumps in to save the girls, Joker is kind of dumb for allowing this to happen since Candy already broke out earlier but I guess he’s feeling especially arrogant.

Miyuki sits down with everyone at a table and they all start eating sweets. When this happens their eyes glaze over and Miyuki becomes just like them, having forgotten all her worries and everything else. Luckily, that’s when Candy comes in.

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Miyuki doesn’t recognize Candy anymore but Candy picks up a cookie and splits it just like Miyuki did last episode. She reminds her of her own words to snap her out of it. You have to think long and hard and decide for yourself on what you find precious, even if it hurts, and that something shared with friends is better than just having something by yourself. Miyuki manages to get back to normal because of Candy.

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Even if things aren’t easy what the girls are experiencing now isn’t true happiness. But even though Miyuki has been saved the others were in the Neglect Ball for too long and cant be snapped out of its effects. They say that hard work is useless, nothing matters, they start falling asleep and they don’t recognize Miyuki anymore. This is the Bad End. Sloth caused by forgetting reality and all your troubles that brings you to your own destruction.

Miyuki transforms and tries to use Happy Shower to purify the whole Neglect Ball dimension but Joker comes in and intercepts it.

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Joker transforms the place into a nightmarish landscape and creates a cool serpentine Akanbe to fight happy. He doesn’t use a black nose because they’re harmful but figures one regular Akanbe is enough for a single worn out Precure.

Candy wakes up the other girls while Happy fights the Akanbe but even seeing this the girls don’t care or remember anything. Meanwhile Joker tells them all to why even bother? There’s nothing to worry about in his world. Happy says she wants her friends back to normal, there’s no true fun or smiles here. Joker reminds them of all the painful things they’ve gone through in their past, Akane not making the volleyball team, Yayoi failing in the art contest, Nao falling in the relay, Reika worrying about her Path and causing problems for others, and gets the four of them to fall further into despair. If you didn’t try so hard in the first place you never would’ve failed. Candy says though that you need to try even when things are hard, and that when everyone was trying their hardest they were always sparkling.

This gets Happy in full gear. You know, not only does Miyuki have some of the best smiles of any girl, as Happy she gets some of the best serious faces too.

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She tells Joker how struggling let her find out what was truly important to her, sadness let her become even happier later, what made her ultra happy was the feelings she had for her friends, family and Candy. The other girls too begin to remember all the fun times they had with each other, how everyone helped and support them through the good and the bad. There was so much happiness born. It may be difficult but Happy says they want to face the future that way, and they’ll do it together and create a sparkling and shining future.

But she still can’t face off against the Akanbe alone and it blasts her into submission, Joker is preparing to have the Akanbe outright kill her.

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Candy goes to stand with her, even though she’s scared and knows she’ll die Candy has made the choice to fight with her. As the Akanbe fires a powerful blast of energy at them the girls scream together…!

And a ball of fire comes out of the sky and cancels out the attack.

The Smile Precure have all returned.

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With their friends they can face anything and show their true smiles. They’ll always walk towards the future. Together the 6 of them activate the Royal Clock and shatter the Neglect Ball dimension.

Joker gets some of the black paint and spreads it on the Akanbe to turn it into a Hyper Akanbe so the girls use their new attack to defeat it.

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Candy presses down on the Royal Clock to activate it “Make everyone’s powers as one” and the girls use Royal Rainbow Burst, the clock also moves from 12 to 1. It’s essentially the same as Rainbow Burst except that now it’s a Phoenix shooting out the beam instead of a Pegasus. After this Joker says he has to find the Miracle Jewel now that they’ve managed to defeat his new Hyper Akanbe. As the girls all look out at the sunset together Pop tells them that the Queen will surely be revived with the next batch of Decor and Miyuki says that as long as they’re together they can surpass anything.

Couple things to mention about this two-parter now. It’s where Candy really gets her character development, she grows up, there’s no more cowardly Candy, no more failure Candy. We now get competent helpful Candy. She starts using the Decor in the girls fights in the episodes after this to help them, it stresses the theme of them all having to combine their powers. The Precure and Candy. Smile makes a point of Candy being a lot more directly helpful in the fights after the Neglect Ball than most other fairies are. It’s the best kind of help too instead of the “Scream and power up”. Candy is the best developed fairy in Precure and the most important. Even more than Chiffon eventually.

The other thing to mention is the Royal Clock. Of all the power-up items it’s easily the best. For one it’s not just a simple box but has a design that really fits in with the themes and motifs of Smile. Two it allows Candy to directly participate in the group attack by pressing on it. And three with the clock moving once per attack it adds one more mysterious element to the plot.

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For episode 333 the girls get involved in a movie shoot. The director of which is voiced by Bunbee. It’s a silly episode, not much need to go into greater detail on it. Pop stayed with them for this episode and he acts like an idiot the whole time, it’s pretty hilarious. Everyone looks cute in their movie outfits.

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It starts the trend of Candy directly participating in fights and using the Decors to help out, the next few episodes as well make a point to include Candy in this way. In this episode she uses the Elephant Decor to spray water on Akaoni’s Hyper Akanbe that he made from a camera, causing it to short circuit. It’s kind of a funny turnaround because Pop is totally useless and stupid in the fight this time.

The next episode is kind of underwhelming. It’s the school festival and it’s very similar to Heartcatch’s great school festival episode but very noticeably inferior. I do still kind of enjoy it though. The class voted to perform a fashion show and Miyuki comes up with the idea to make the theme about fairy tales. At the same time the girls have trouble with a fellow student who wanted to perform with his band for the festival and now he’s being a negative nancy who wont help out. Again Candy helps the Cures win their fight.

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Everyone is super cute in their outfits, especially Nao. The song is certainly no Heart Goes On but it’s really cute and catchy and I like it a lot.

Next episode is an absolute blast. Not a lot to actually talk about with it, it’s just really fun. It’s also the episode that really rejuvenated a lot of the enthusiasm for Smile that had been gone since episode 24. Happy gets turned into a giant robot by one of Majorina’s items and Wolfrun and Akaoni both create Akanbe robots to fight her, which can also combine into one. There’s some shout-outs and such to classic super robot shows. Yayoi is hyped up on robots and this sort of thing so she’s freaking out the whole episode. Nao and Akane play the disinterested straightman duo and Reika is the clueless but enthusiastic one. Wolfrun and Akaoni have great chemistry withe each other the entire episode too. With all three generals here the quality of the episode is above average just because of that.

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The action is also pretty cool and the combined Hyper Akanbe is the coolest looking Akanbe ever. The opening theme also plays in the fight, lyrics and all. And Candy uses the Angel Decor to give Happy Robo wings so she can fly just like the Akanbe too. Beauty is the only one who can pilot Happy Robo well, in fact she can do it perfectly, after reading the manga on the robot series Yayoi likes in an instant. Everything is just a blast this episode and it’s absolutely hilarious.

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Episode 36 is another excellent Smile classic. A cute and touching story on a girl having a crush for the first time. And because this is Smile it’s hilarious too. Akane, the one terrible at English, meets Brian from England. He’s going to be going to their school for three weeks. His VA has pretty good English for anime standards. Him just being so genuine and enthusiastic makes Akane fall for him after spending time together.

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Brian of course has a pretty stereotypical westerner look to him and has some silly ideas about Japan but he’s a nice endearing character. The episode is also well animated, the OP has started showing scenes from the movie too.

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It’s funny that Yayoi is the one who figures out Akane likes Brian and then all the girls try to help her confess to him. But Akane, despite liking him and having a lot of fun for three weeks, can’t really come to terms with her feelings and she doesn’t say goodbye to him when he leaves their school for the airport. In a nice callback the other girls find her practicing volleyball at the same place Miyuki found her in episode 2 when she didn’t make the team. Akane says they’ll never meet again anyways so what’s the point in all they did together, but Miyuki asks her if she’s really satisfied with that. Wolfrun then comes to Earth and attacks.

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The fight is short but it has a cool moment when Candy uses the Sports Decor to give Sunny a kendo stick and then she uses her elemental powers to turn it into a fire sword and beats Wolfrun’s Hyper Akanbe around.

After that Akane is convinced to go after Brian, it’s a really great scene as she runs to the airport and the other 4 do various things to help her out. One of Smile’s best moments.

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Akane gets to the airport after his flight had already left. But Brian chose to wait for her and miss his flight. She still can’t really muster up her feelings and then Brian just thanks her for everything, all the fun times they had and all the things she taught him. Akane thanks him back and the episode ends. Lovely.

Episode 37 is not quite as great as the last two but it’s still fun and important for Reika’s character arc.

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Student council elections are coming up, everyone assumes Reika will be President but then she tells them she isn’t entering the elections. The reason being that because she still isn’t sure about her own Path she doesn’t think she’s fit to lead anyone. The other girls still think she’s the best for the job for how much she thinks about others though.

Meanwhile our idiot trio  watches a show with a stupidly powerful student council President who orders around everyone and they get the “bright” idea to go become the President of the girls school. This isn’t even a plan to gather Bad Energy. They’re just doing it because they saw it on tv. Majorina uses an item to turn them into humans, they look like stereotypes from the 70’s or something. Akaoni calls himself Akai Onikichi which I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a GTO reference. And when the three get to the shcool they make a bunch of outlandish promises to the students like banning homework if they get elected.

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Reika cant abide such silliness from people aiming to be President. She doesn’t think they have the schools best interest at heart and aren’t fit to lead. So she chooses to run to stop them. (Obviously the girls can’t tell it’s the Bad End Generals disguised as humans)

But when asked Reika doesn’t really have any new or exciting ideas for what she’ll do if she’s elected. The others crazy promises entice the students more than Reika’s stalwart attitude. Again Reika still just did this out of a feeling of obligation rather than a deep personal desire. She still doesn’t know her Path.

At the day of the candidates speeches Reika’s prim and proper desires for the school and the students gets mocked by Wolfrun and the others and the students don’t follow her. Akaoni and Majorina then accidentally reveal their true identities when they trip over the microphone cord, they leave but Wolfrun sticks around to gather Bad Energy and start a fight. He knocks the girls around and says no one supports Reika, she isn’t interesting and no one wants to follow her, he almost makes her cry. But Happy and the others tell him that Reika taught them all important things, even when there’s stuff you don’t want to do like cleaning or homework you still gotta do it, Reika teaches them all this kind of stuff cause she knows it will better them. And someone who puts others before themselves like Reika is the perfect fit for student council president. Happy says that someday everyone else will understand this about Reika too.

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They purify the Hyper Akanbe… but much to everyone’s surprise (except the always serious Reika) Wolfrun sticks around to see which of them will win the election. Reika repeats her speech to the students and because of her simple and heartfelt desires to better the school and the students she’s able to convey to everyone just how much she cares about all of this and the speech goes over well. The votes come in and Reika wins while Wolfrun leaves in a huff. This episode sets the stage for Reika’s next big episode.

Next episode is possibly the most adorable episode ever. The girls get turned into little kids by one of Majorina’s items. It’s the final lost episode and again it twists around the normal format, the girls are affected through no fault of their own, they instantly realize this is Majorina’s fault and in the Bad End Kingdom karma finally came knocking for Wolfrun and Akaoni as they got themselves turned into kids when they were messing around with her stuff again. Everything about this episode is just so cute, the transformations, the attacks, the girls playing around with the kid Wolfrun and Akaoni like they’re friends.

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It’s also kind of a Nao episode, showing how she takes care of everyone else like they’re her little brothers or sisters. And after becoming a kid again and just having fun Nao realizes she doesn’t need to be the mature one all the time in her family and she finally lightens up around them. She can be the big sister but still have fun herself around her siblings. The police officer appears for the final time, actually giving Majorina a hint to where the girls are. And during Peace’s rock paper scissors she combines them all into one hand sign, so good luck if you were trying to beat her every episode. It’s just the cutest episode.

And that brings us the episode 39.

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I really think I view this as Smile’s best episode. It does everything perfectly and exemplifies all the major aspects of Smile. And also they don’t just use a fairy tale, they get really clever with what they do with it and how they tie it in to the episode and the fight. They really play with Cinderella to the fullest.

As a side note for the next five episodes Smile takes scenes from the OP and inserts them into the episode, for this one it uses the scene of Miyuki in her princess outfit.

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In the school library Miyuki sees a strange book on the ground and picks it up, when she opens it she gets sucked inside. It turns out to be the story of Cinderella and Miyuki has taken the place of Cinderella herself, and couldn’t be happier of course. Candy was with her when this happened and rushes to show the other girls. In the Bad End Kingdom Majorina’s crystal ball acts up and it seems she’s realized what has appeared.

Pop comes flying into the girls classroom as well, yelling about a missing book and Candy comes in to tell the girls Miyuki just got sucked into the book they found. They open up the book and see Miyuki as Cinderella, although quite a bit happier than Cinderella is supposed to be at this point in the story.

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Pop tells them that this book is the “Origin of Cinderella”, it connects all the stories of Cinderella in the world and is the source of their happiness. Majorina wants to give this Cinderella a bad end so every Cinderella around the world will fall into one. The three generals come to Earth and they and the girls and Candy get sucked into the story, Pop stays on the outside.

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Majorina becomes Miyuki’s stepmother and Akaoni and Wolfrun her stepsisters. Lots of great comedy this episode. They do everything they can to screw up the story. It’s funny that they don’t just like attack Miyuki, they stay within the story and mess up aspects of it for now. Finally the time for the ball has arrived but the generals lock Miyuki in a cage, no need to worry though! Her fairy godmother will help her-

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Oh.

Poor Fairy Godmother Yayoi got caught in a trap. The generals then go off to the ball but luckily Nao and Akane are here as Cinderella’s mice (of course the two of them get paired up like this) and Candy is the lizard… wait, lizard?

Well anyways Yayoi uses her magic to create the pumpkin carriage and turn Nao and Akane into horses. And she gives Miyuki her princess dress and glass slippers. But on the way to the castle Wolfrun shows up and acts like wolf from the Three Little Pigs and he huffs and he puffs and he blows them away, breaking the carriage. Pop meanwhile is reading all this as it happens, he talks to the audience a couple times as he reacts.

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Then at the castle we see that Reika is the prince. Makes sense. She refuses the offer to dance from the three generals and starts running around, getting chased by them. Yayoi comes back to Miyuki and they catch a ride on her broom to the castle, just in time to crash land into the three generals and send them flying, giving Miyuki the opportunity to dance with Prince Reika.

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Much shipping was done this day.

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Much shipping. But on that note I feel Akane’s reaction perfectly sums up Smile’s general attitude towards drama.

So it’s almost midnight and they have to leave but the generals come back and Wolfrun makes an Akanbe out of the glass slipper they’re supposed to leave behind. Just a red nose though, because he forgot to grab a black one. This Akanbe also has a blue noses facial expression for some reason too, maybe they just wanted to reference it. Unfortunately everyone except Miyuki left their Smile Pact back on Earth so she transforms alone… but still does the same role-call for some reason as if all the others were there with her.

The Akanbe doesn’t fight though, it runs away and jumps all over the castle trying to run out the clock so the story will be ruined. Candy though uses a decor to stop it. She uses the Candy Decor to create a rain of candy and crash down on the Akanbe. Silly Japanese puns, “ame”- rain or candy.

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Happy’s strong feelings for Cinderella allow her to call on the power of the Pegasus by herself and she transforms into Princess Happy, creating a massive amount of energy in the air she uses Cinderella Happy Shower and vanquishes the Akanbe, also blasting herself back to Cinderella’s house right before the stroke of midnight.

“Next morning” Reika comes to find the owner of the glass slipper but the generals have one last trick up their sleeve, they bring out a huge fake glass slipper and have Akaoni wear it. However his huge feet shatter it even though they made it for him. Candy then grabs the real glass slipper and has Miyuki wear it. Happy end!

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Everyone gets out of the book safe and sound. Miyuki thanks everyone for helping her, they all worked together just like the characters in the story to give Cinderella a happy ending.

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Pop comments on how some things have changed in the story and wonders if that’s okay. Candy thinks it’s fine.

People said this should’ve been how every episode of Smile was and I can’t really disagree. But no sense crying over spilt milk, Smile is what it is and it was still good. This episode is great as the last silly episode of Smile, it’s really perfectly placed. Good to have a grand adventure like this before Smile enters its end game and gets serious again.

Yes, after here Smile gets and stays serious until the end. It gets big, it gets dramatic and it gets great. The next five episodes have yet to be topped by any subsequent season. Smile’s final arc begins with episode 40.

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Akane is doing good in her volleyball practice and is going to be used in her volleyball teams next match. Later on due to an assignment in class Akane wonders what her treasure is. Volleyball, Okonomiyaki, Brian, she cares about them all a lot but she doesn’t exactly have a physical treasure or anything.

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Meanwhile in the Bad End Kingdom Joker is pissed. He tells Wolfrun that Pierrot is mad over his lack of progress but Wolfrun gets angry at Joker, and just who the hell is Pierrot anyways he asks? But Joker silences him with a simple threat. Return to the past? What could that mean for Wolfrun? A bunch of villain mysteries get added in all at once with this one scene. Joker tells Wolfrun he has one final chance to defeat a Cure, Wolfrun chooses Cure Sunny to get back at her for what happened in episode 23.

Back on Earth Akane thinks about all the things she likes some more but still doesn’t have a single “treasure”. She gets a letter from Brian… that she can’t read because it’s in English but the other girls help her out with that. It’s just a friendly letter though, much to Yayoi’s and the others disappointment. However he does say that Akane has a smile like the sun. Which the girls all agree on, whenever Akane smiles it brightens up their day.

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The 4 others then give her a gift. They’ve been working on this in celebration of Akane’s upcoming match. Akane hugs them all, she loves it. She decides this doll is her treasure.

The next day though Wolfrun attacks her before the match and when the others aren’t around. He’s here for a one on one match. He gathers some Bad Energy from the other kids around and creates a Hyper Akanbe out of a volleyball.

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It’s a really good fight, just a straight up brawl. Wolfrun is pretty vicious and dangerous here too and he expressly states he’s destroying everything Akane cares about. Sunny can’t match up to a Hyper Akanbe on her own either, especially with Wolfrun so serious, and she gets beat into the ground. He insults everything about her and says how much he hates her and how she smiles for her friends.

Off in the distance the other girls see the Bad End space and rush to it.

The doll falls from Akane’s bag while Wolfrun is rampaging and he grabs it. He crushes it in his hand and tells her how worthless it is. And now it’s time to do the same to Cure Happy he says. But that’s something Sunny can’t allow, she thinks of Miyuki and everything everyone has done for her, despite being beat down she stands up and starts fighting again. Sunny says she understands her true treasure now, everyone being around her allows her to do her best. Her friends that support her for everything are her true treasure.

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That desire to protect her friends powers Sunny up, the Decor in her Smile Pact glows wings and unleashes a torrent of fire, Sunny herself starts to glow as well. I call this Winged Decor mode.

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They brawl again, both Sunny and Wolfrun pushed to their limits but Sunny is much stronger now. She beats Wolfrun back and hits him with her new attack, Sunny Fire Burning. However it doesn’t stop Wolfrun completely and using the attack leaves Sunny wiped out, Wolfrun fires an energy blast aiming to kill her but the other girls arrive just in time to stop it and they defeat Wolfrun with Royal Rainbow Burst. After that he leaves, wondering what’s going to happen to him now.

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With that all over Akane tells the girls she’s found out what her true treasure is. But it’s a secret. 🙂

Lot to talk about with this episode and the ensuing ones. I’ve said that Smile is a master of repetition. Nowhere else does that come in harder than here. The fights, the Akanbe, the messages, the music etc. In episode 40 specifically (As Akane herself points out) Wolfrun reuses the same thing for his Hyper Akanbe when fighting her that he used in her first fight back in episode 2. Except it’s stronger and the fight is more intense, the fight also takes heavily from Wolfrun and Sunny’s fight in episode 23 which was also a straightforward brawl, very similar. And the final attack hits Wolfrun in the same way as Sunny Fire did in 23. It also repeats similar themes to episode 2, namely that being a Precure means treasuring your friends. As for the music for all 5 of these character specific episodes it uses the same battle music at some point. Smile knowingly repeats things like this to connect it all together. The other episodes have similar repetitiveness… normally that would be a bad thing but not in this way. The only repetitiveness that’s a problem in these five episodes is the boring way the girls come in and save the one who is fighting, it’s the same 3 out of 5 times and they could’ve gotten more creative with it instead of “attacks come out of nowhere and hit enemy”. Another thing that these episodes repeat is that they give each girl their own narration at the beginning and end, telling the audience about themselves and such. It’s a cute framing device.

Besides repetition there’s the villain rivalries that get played up. Of course Akane, Yayoi, Nao and Reika end up fighting who they fought back in episode 23. The rivalries solidified there get expanded upon. And speaking of the villains it’s interesting to learn that they don’t really know just who or what Pierrot is and they have some sort of shady past too. Even though we don’t know what exactly is going on with them it works well to give a legitimate reason to why they (especially Wolfrun) are so much more intense and anxious in these episodes. Wolfrun is just used so well and I have to give credit to his VA too for doing such a good job with him.

Last few things to mention before actually moving on to the next episodes are that the Royal Clock is more than halfway done, which could’ve been why Joker came back, obviously he didn’t find the Miracle Jewel and has to think of something else. And each time the Royal Clock moves now the space it’s on corresponds with the color of the girl the episode is focusing on. Nice little touch. And the last big general theme of these episodes is “Doing things together/Being together/Everyone supporting each other”. It’s been a big theme in Smile but it gets displayed prominently here as well, it’s why the girls don’t just win the fights one on one. They grow, they get stronger and get new attacks but they still have to work together to defeat the enemy.

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Yayoi’s drawing a manga and everyone wants to see it. It’s a superhero called Miracle Peace she made up when she was a kid. The girls say that maybe Yayoi will become a mangaka in the future, something that seems to excite her. This is a really beautiful episode in both animation and direction. All 5 of these episodes have good animation but 41 and 43 in particular have good cinematography too.

Yayoi thinks that maybe she doesn’t have the conviction to become a mangaka but some other students tell her about a manga contest coming up. And she decides to enter it, the others didn’t even have to convince her. She’s really grown since episode 3. Out of all the girls she is the one who matures the most, helps that she was the most immature at the start too aside from Candy.

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She works really hard on her manga but might not finish it before the deadline. The others offer to help her but she wants to do it by herself. Also a change from when she sought out others to get help from. Yayoi tells them about Miracle Peace, how she created her as her ideal person. She was always a crybaby and Miracle Peace was the person she wanted to become.

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Meanwhile in the Bad End Kingdom Joker tells Akaoni that he only has one chance left to prove himself and orders him to defeat the crybaby Cure Peace.

Yayoi then has a dream that night after working hard on her manga but still worrying about the deadline.

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The villain from her manga says she can’t possibly become a mangaka, she’s too weak and still a crybaby. Miracle Peace protects Yayoi but the villain says she’s just some loser created by a weak crybaby. Miracle Peace refuses to give up… and the dream ends. But when Yayoi wakes up she accidentally spills her ink on the pages she was working on. She thinks about all the support her friends gave her and how enthusiastic they were and looking forward to her manga, she runs out of the apartment with her manga and runs into the other girls who had come by to encourage her. Yayoi tells them she’s sorry and runs off into the park, getting ready to throw away her manga.

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But Akaoni comes in at that moment. He gathers some Bad Energy and then creates a Hyper Akanbe from her manga, becoming the villain in it. Just like Peace’s debut episode her artwork gets turned into an Akanbe. Yayoi is scared but Miracle Peace wouldn’t back down so she transforms and fights.

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Akaoni knocks her around and insults her manga and Miracle Peace, saying it’s stupid for Yayoi to look up to a character she created. The fight, the dialogue and some of the visuals mirror Yayoi’s dream. It’s also a good fight. He calls Peace a crybaby quitter but she still doesn’t give up. He uses a beam attack against her but she blocks it and tells him that she’ll finish Miracle Peace’s story. She won’t run away. She may be a crybaby now but Miracle Peace is inside of her and one day she can become as strong as she is. She loves drawing manga and will continue to do it. Miracle Peace’s strength is inside of her.

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Peace powers up in the same way Sunny did and now the real fight begins. She completely outclasses Akaoni and hits him in the face with the same kick she used on the Akanbe back in episode 9.

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She then calls down a massive pillar of lightning and hits him with her new attack, Peace Thunder Hurricane. Again though he isn’t defeated but the others arrive right on time to help Peace. Akaoni has some great screams when he’s hit by Hurricane and Rainbow Burst this episode, afterwards he slinks back to the Bad End Kingdom.

Yayoi starts working on her manga again and finishes it.

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She says she still might be a bit of a crybaby but she’ll always work hard to the very end.

Now to episode 42. A single episode which gets more dramatic than most Precure ever get.

Nao narrates how her mom is about to give birth to her seventh child, which will make Nao the big sister of 6 other kids. She loves her family and she’ll always do the best for them.

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Her parents are going to the hospital now and they ask the ever reliable Nao to take care of everyone. When Miyuki hears about this she says they should all go and help Nao out. We know that Nao could use a break sometimes and isn’t as tough as she appears.

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Joker talks to Majorina… asking of she’s seen Wolfrun or Akaoni lately, and tells her to go take out Cure March.

Nao takes her siblings out shopping for the ingredients for their families special curry, Majorina spots them all and gets an idea. Back at the Midorikawa home Nao realizes that she forgot to get the apples needed for the curry and two of her younger siblings get the idea to go back and buy them. They want to be dependable just like she is. Nao doesn’t notice them leave just yet.

While the other 4 are on their way to Nao’s Reika tells them about when Nao first became a big sister and that her family is her precious treasure. When they get to her house they see Nao rush out of it, finally noticing that the two kids are gone she enlists their help to find them, her parents words ringing in her ears she wont fail to take care of them. The two kids realized when they got back to the shopping center that they didn’t have any money and cant buy anything. Which is when Majorina comes in and offers them a nice red apple.

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She uses her magic to make it grow bigger and traps them inside. Yes, unlike Wolfrun and Akaoni Majorina sometimes uses something called strategy. Still can’t compare to Joker but it’s there.

Nao and her other siblings who were helping her look arrive and see this. She’s afraid to transform in front of them so first she tries to get them to run away but when she realizes that’s pointless she transforms. Secrets be damned. Majorina then gathers Bad Energy from her siblings and creates a Hyper Akanbe out of the apple.

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With the other two still inside of there Majorina thinks she’s got this won, especially since March has to also defend the other kids that are still on the battlefield. This Hyper Akanbe is the only one that doesn’t directly call back to the one made in March’s debut but it does call back to Majorina’s debut and all the Snow White references with her. And the way it’s used is very similar to how Akaoni used his against Nao’s family in episode 4.

Through the early part of the fight March protects the others and because of this and her determination-

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They break out of the Bad End effect, they want to protect their sister too.

Seeing this Majorina gets fed up and prepares an energy ball to destroy them all.

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March grabs the attack as Majorina throws it and hold it off, she can’t allow her family to be hurt. She powers up just like Sunny and Peace and breaks Majorina’s attack, running toward her (in an action scene copied from episode 4) March kicks her, going all out Majorina turns younger to draw out more power and they hit each other a few times.

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March spins around at high speed and creates a vortex, using her new attack March Shoot Impact she blasts the Hyper Akanbe high into the air… but Majorina retaliates by firing out a final energy blast, going right past March it’s aimed at her three younger siblings still on the ground. Majorina laughs as Nao can’t do anything and just has to watch her family be destroyed.

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There’s a huge explosion and it looks like Nao has lost everything…

But just in time Happy and Sunny were able to come in and block the attack. Peace and Beauty then break open the Hyper Akanbe and rescue the other two, Candy even gets to be useful and blocks an attack from Majorina with the power of a Decor. That moment where Nao thinks three of her siblings have just died is one of the most powerful moments in the franchise.

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Together they defeat Majorina and her siblings all take a nice long rest on the side of the river.

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Nao thanks them all, she was so scared she cries. The “strong” Nao really needs moments like this more where she can just let someone else take care of her. When it comes to her family Nao is the most delicate of all the girls. Her father then comes by and tells them that the baby’s been born and they go to see Nao’s newest little sister.

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Appreciate what you have and love, that’s a good message for this episode. Couple side notes, after waking up from their nap all of Nao’s siblings seem to think what happened was a dream. Potentially a side effect of the Bad End Space, kind of annoying though, even if they didn’t do anything with it it would’ve been cool to have them still remember that Nao is Cure March and everything. Other thing to mention is that I originally thought that all the names of the new attacks were references to older attacks from other Precure in the franchise, Rouge had a Burning attack, Passion had Hurricane and Beauty and Happy’s attack names have older uses too. Impact is the one that doesn’t fit. There was Blossom and Marine Impact in Heartcatch but those weren’t normal stock footage attacks, either way it’s the odd one out. Still a cool attack though.

Now episode 43 is pretty special.

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Perfect student council president Reika achieves all her goals and gives it her all in everything. Always doing things to her fullest, that is how she walks her path. And she has just now been chosen to study abroad in England. Reika applied for this back when she was a first year, she’s going in a month and will be gone for a year. The girls congratulate her but Reika worries about no longer being able to be a Precure if she leaves, but the others try to cover for her, telling her they’ll think of something. Reika’s family as well is happy for her, her brother applied when he was younger but got rejected. Reika goes to talk with her grandfather about this all and while she’s acting happy he can tell something is wrong with her. He shows her his calligraphy, a kanji for the Path and then a different writing of the Path. Telling her that there are many different paths one can take and asking which one she’s chosen? Reika thinks about how everyone around her has always supported her whenever she would choose to do something but now she isn’t certain of what path she should take.

In the Bad End Kingdom Joker muses to himself about the failures of the others and decides that he’ll go defeat the brains of the Precure so the others will fall apart, thus targeting Reika.

The next day the girls encourage Reika some more, telling her that it’s okay for her to act on her own desires instead of putting everyone else ahead of herself and she should go study abroad. But after Reika leaves we see their true feelings, all of them are upset at the thought of Reika leaving but they put on a brave face because they don’t want Reika to feel guilty. They really don’t want to have to separate but they want to respect Reika’s choice. This really hits Candy hard.

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Joker then comes and gathers Bad Energy, he then takes Reika inside some sort of pocket dimension that looks like a circus big top. And then congratulates her on her decision to go study abroad and stop being a Precure.

She transforms and attacks him but he creates a mirror from his cards and then turns it into a Hyper Akanbe (but doesn’t combine with it) and outside the other girls try to find Reika and also transform. Beauty fights back against the Hyper Akanbe, saying she never said she was quitting being a Precure. So Joker starts to probe at her, asking if she’s letting her chance to study abroad go away? And if she is it means she’s betraying everyone’s grand expectations of her isn’t she?

He uses a lot of devices to mess with her and it’s a really good scene, great visuals too.

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Everyone will be so disappointed if she doesn’t leave, she needs to fulfill their expectations like she’s always done, like when she chose to stay a Precure and when she chose to become student council president. Everyone else is so happy for her study trip in England. Hurry up and go study abroad Reika! Give up on being a Precure and do what everyone else wants you to!

All of this causes the shocking to happen, Reika loses her transformation.

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Joker prepares to skewer her through the back… which is horrifying. I mean really, Cures come “close” to dying in some serious episodes but nothing as visceral and frightening as this. Joker being creepy and disturbing as always.

But then Joker hears Happy and the others voices calling for Reika, he decides to bring them all inside his room to show them the defeated former Cure and maybe finish them all off too. This is kind of a dumb decision for him after what happened with the Neglect Ball but whatever.

He has the Hyper Akanbe attack the girls as Reika sits there in shock, he tells them all that Reika has quit being a Cure and will go study abroad so they should wish her well. It’s what everyone wanted anyways isn’t it? Yeah, the others say that they’ll respect her wishes to go… Happy will send her off with a smile… right?

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It becomes too much to bear, Happy and the others cant hold back their true feelings anymore. They tell Reika that they really don’t want her to go. They wanted to be strong for her but they can’t anymore, they all cry for Reika. And Reika… she doesn’t want to go either, she finally admits to herself that she doesn’t want to leave them, she wants to stay with all of her precious friends.

Joker just laughs at this display and has his Hyper Akanbe prepare to finish them all. But Reika reiterates to him, she never said she was quitting being a Precure. Not once!

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She powers up like all the others and turns the room into a field of ice, an enraged Joker then absorbs his Hyper Akanbe and the two do battle. It’s an amazing treat, fantastic animation, cool sword-fighting and Cure Beauty’s image song playing in the background. She even seems to turn his own dimension against him somehow, the lights follow her and she jumps off his trapezes and uses everything to her advantage. She completely outclasses Joker in every way.

He asks her if she’s going to ignore everyone’s expectations, if she’s straying from her path. But Reika responds simply that she doesn’t have to do what he says.

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Reika has decided that she will do as she wants. Others expectations do not matter. There is not just one path for her either, as long as she stays true to herself, all her feelings, all her flaws, everything about her, the path only she decides on. Her path. Reika’s journey in Smile is not about finding what to do with her life or finding the same kind of passions the other girls have for manga, volleyball or fairy tales. Reika’s story is one of learning that the future holds infinite possibilities for her as long as she stays true to herself. It’s not about finding the one Path that she was looking for in earlier episodes but realizing she can take any path.

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She uses Beauty Blizzard Arrow and shatters Joker’s mirror and his dimension. The girls use Royal Rainbow burts together, Joker bails right before it hits but they still purify the Hyper Akanbe and get the Decor.

Afterwards Reika rejects the offer to study abroad, she wants to stay with everyone and treasure the times she has with them.

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Episode 44 has sort of a different atmosphere and style to it than the other 4. It’s not just about Miyuki either but kind of used as a summation of Smile and its themes as a whole, although it is very centered around Miyuki and gives a lot of background and development to her.

It’s Christmas, Miyuki thinks to herself about how she loves happy things and smiles and how she’s always looking for ultra happy things. But what does Ultra Happy really mean? This connects all the way back to episode 1, the culmination of Miyuki’s journey. Everyone has cute unique winter outfits for this episode too.

Miyuki trips on her way to meet up with the other girls and some woman and her daughter help her out. The little girl has a hand mirror that reminds Miyuki of something from her past. And then we briefly cut to the Bad End Kingdom to find Wolfrun, he’s been hiding on the outskirts of the Kingdom since episode 40, afraid to go back and face Joker and the threat of “returning to the past”. At wits end he grabs his last Hyper Akanbe nose and decides to go defeat Cure Happy.

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Miyuki tells her friends about a mirror she had as a kid, this mirror and the first friend she made because of it taught her the importance of smiles. When Miyuki was young she was really shy and didn’t have any friends, and because of her parents work for a while she lived at her grandmothers. All Miyuki did was read picture books so her grandma gave her this mirror and told her to smile. Seeing her face in the mirror as she smiled gave Miyuki some courage and she went out to try and make friends, but the first kids she came across she still froze up and ran away from. She talks to the mirror while under a big tree and asks it where all her friends are?

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And then after a flash of light she sees a young girl sitting on one of the tree branches. Miyuki cant remember her name now, she thinks she might not have even asked, but they played a lot under that tree. Her first friend. This is just kind of a beautiful and touching episode about Miyuki.

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She started drawing everything she did with the girl in her diary and the next day when she went to go see her she ran into the same neighbor kids from earlier. But this time as she’s close to freezing up she hears a voice telling her to smile and she’s able to say hello and she eventually becomes friends with those kids. After that Miyuki never saw the girl from the tree again.

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From then on Miyuki always smiled, smiles bring happiness. That’s what she learned from the girl. Miyuki thinks maybe that girl was a fairy from the mirror her grandmother gave her, no one really knows. It fits the light fantasy vibe Smile has though.

Miyuki has been looking for happy things since then, Akane remembers what she said when she first transferred in. Miyuki says she’s still looking for the true ultra happiness and doesn’t understand what it really is just yet. Just a feeling she has so far.

The 5 girls and Candy then run into the little girl from before, who’s lost.

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The others go looking for her mom while Miyuki stays with her. Miyuki tries cheering her up, asking about the mirror she has and her mother. The little girl loves her mom, she says she’s a crybaby and her mom always tries to help her. Miyuki thinks that receiving the kindness of others is something that becomes true happiness, so wait? Is that what Miyuki’s true Ultra Happiness is?

But then Wolfrun comes in, gathering Bad Energy from  everyone around. Miyuki can tell something is different about him, he’s much angrier than normal. He blames Happy for causing this downfall in his life, from meeting her in episode 1 things have just gone to hell for him. Miyuki transforms and fights him.

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He creates his Hyper Akanbe in the same house style that the first Akanbe and Super Akanbe were, nice touch and it’s cool how Smile changes it around with the last Hyper Akanbe following this theme.

The fight is pretty brutal at first as Wolfrun just beats the hell out of Happy, saying how much he hates her and how everything about her annoys him. He says she’s a weakling who can’t do anything by herself, always relying on her dumb worthless friends, her damn smiles and all that are so maddening!

But Happy tells him how precious her friends and their feelings are. He tries smashing her into the ground but she holds him back.

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“Everyone possesses that kind feeling of wanting to protect someone. That’s how they became Precure. That’s why even if you think all of this is pointless, to us, it is something precious… I’m always receiving the kindness of others. Even someone as shy as me was able to take her first step. I’m sure everyone feels the same way. They are able to pull through with the help of others. They know that they can’t do everything by themselves. They understood. Not only our friends, but our fathers, mothers, family, classmates, teachers, and also our beloved Candy. Everyone’s kindness is cheering me on, always. They give me the courage to live for each day. They made my heart all warm and fuzzy. They made me ultra happy!”

The kindness from others is the true Ultra Happy, the shared happiness of all. Wolfrun freaks out, he doesn’t understand it at all and tries to crush Happy who continues to push back against him.

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Happy will protect all of that, she powers up just like all the others and effortlessly bats Wolfrun around.

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Her strong eyes and conviction even scares Wolfrun and he tries to destroy her with an energy blast. She jumps into the air and uses her new attack, Happy Shower Shining to overcome it and knock him down. Like before though this still doesn’t finish him and he tries to attack her again but the other girls come in and save her. I still remember that people were annoyed by the others having to save her when this episode first aired despite the grand speech Happy just gave about everyone working together and supporting each other. So anyways they defeat him with Royal Rainbow Burst and he slinks back to the Bad End Kingdom and whatever fate awaits him there.

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They find the girls mother and a cute insert song begins to play as it starts to snow around them. The girls all enjoy Christmas night on the town together. Miyuki says she found her ultra happiness thanks to everyone, the kindness in everyone’s heart, the people being kind to her that filled her own heart with happiness and now she wants to share that same feeling with everyone else. A chain, a story of happiness.

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Miyuki has the best smiles, the best serious faces, and the best speeches. She is best girl.

Also that finishes off the final arc and now we get to the grand finale next episode. The Royal Clock just hit 12 in episode 44 and there’s only one more Decor needed to revive the Queen, and only one more gathering of Bad Energy needed for Pierrot to revive, what will happen next?!

It’s funny how despite how simple and linear of a season Smile is it has a bunch of different plot threads going into the finale, the royal clock, the queen, the mystery of the villains past, etc. Smile’s finale is somewhat haphazard so not all of these plots get the best resolution. I do still think Smile has a good finale though, most don’t but they just have bad taste in Precure. Smile’s finale is kind of disappointing to me in some ways though that I’ll get into in a bit. Candy hasn’t done much the past 5 episodes because they were specifically for the Precure but she certainly starts being relevant again soon. Smile’s finale does a lot of things, kind of too many things for just 4 episodes which again is funny for a season that was so simple then it suddenly starts doing too much right at the end.

The finale still has a ton of great moments and I enjoy watching it.

Before I get to the finale a couple minor things to talk about, Misato Fukuen is the VA for Miyuki and she probably gives the best performance anyone has ever given a Cure. She fits the role perfectly and she brings out the fullest in the character, it feels like she’s throwing herself 100% into the show. Excellent work on her part. The voice acting in general is very solid in Smile, no season really has bad voice work but Smile’s quality really stands out. Smile chose to stay very simple throughout its run and it’s a unique experience because of that, its strength lies within its individual episodes because that’s what the creators worked on the hardest to just be enjoyable. You could pick an episode at random in Smile and enjoy yourself for the next 20 minutes, that’s just how it works, there are very few unenjoyable episodes compared to other seasons. Each episode is a fun romp without much or any extra baggage. Smile’s mantra might as well be “Fuck drama”. And I have no problems with that. Until Maho it’s probably the kiddiest and most thematically simple season, and a complete joy to watch. The girls are all lovable, the villains are all lovable, the season is all lovable.

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Smile bucks the trend through Fresh-Suite and has shit go down right after the Christmas episode, the same way the old seasons did.

Pierrot’s egg appears in the sky above the city, big enough to cover the whole place when it gets closer, the bad energy has been collecting and festering in there the whole time. He’ll definitely be stronger when he’s reborn than when he was in episode 23. The Royal Clock suddenly activates and turns Candy into a crystal… a jewel?!

In the Bad End Kingdom Joker talks to the 3 failed generals, he tells them the only reason they aren’t dead is because the Miracle Jewel has just appeared. Candy turned into it. Joker wants it to make an eternal bad end, he also tells the generals that the black noses they’ve been using have sucked away their life-force and one more use will kill them. Oops, did he forget to mention that earlier? But the alternative of returning to the past is scarier to them than death, so they gladly accept the final black nose and go out to defeat the girls and gather the last bit of Bad Energy needed for Pierrot. To “help” them Joker mentions another way they can use the black nose.

Pop then comes to Earth, telling the girls that that thing in the sky is Pierrot’s egg, and they show him Candy.

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The generals come and tell them that Candy has become the Miracle Jewel. They then create a Bad End space together and send up the bad energy to Pierrot, but it doesn’t go into him yet. The girls and Pop have to protect the Miracle Jewel to save the world so they transform. The generals then use the black nose directly on themselves, transforming and powering up their own bodies. Pretty cool transformations. Wolfrun fights Happy, Akaoni fights Sunny and Peace, and Majorina fights March and Beauty. The fights are short but sweet, there’s some nice action and plenty of cool stuff that happens in them. They honestly are too short though, more straightforward action would’ve been cool.

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The generals each overcome the girls. The Precure use Rainbow Burst and the generals create a big dragon thing to counter it. Because the generals are now backed by the power of a black nose the regular Rainbow Burst cant beat them and the girls are defeated. I do love the clash of attacks.

The 3 generals tell them how the pain from all their defeats has made them stronger… and the pain from their pasts as well.

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Their pasts as the villains from picture books, hated and feared by all, alienated, never allowed to be happy themselves but forced to see the smiling faces of everyone always. One day Joker came to them and said to just hate the world, strike back against it, destroy it. If they can’t be happy then they’ll destroy the happiness of everyone else. They say the girls can’t possibly understand what they’ve been through.

But they say they can understand, at least a little. They’ve all had sad times in their lives and after learning this about the generals they don’t want to fight them anymore. They want to help and protect them too. They wanna save the world but they don’t think they need to fight these sad people to do that.

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The generals hate their sympathy, they’re just happy people who don’t know what it’s like to be hated. But Happy wants to help them and they think about all their fights with them, the generals remember the honest feelings each girl had of wanting to protect and help people, this messes with their minds and the evil in them starts to take over. Happy calls out for a way to help them and her Smile Pact and Winged Decor activate…

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This Ultra Happy tells them how much she loves everyone in fairy tales, even the villains like them because without them the story wouldn’t work. They’re all actually nice people for letting these stories happen where people reading them can get dreams and hopes from. She thanks them for everything they’ve done, something no one else has done, and asks to be friends with them. The generals are moved to tears by Happy and the evil leaves their bodies and they’re revealed to be…

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Fairies from Marchenland. This came out of nowhere. But anyways it turns out the truth is that they were taken and corrupted by Joker when Pierrot first attacked Marchenland, false memories and evil were implanted in them to turn the fairies into the generals. As the last Decor appears though Joker swoops in and takes it.

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Joker has spent all this time gathering Bad Energy around the world, he makes the clock hit 18 and Pierrot start to revive and now it’s just time to kill the Precure as a gift, he then takes the evil from the hearts of the generals that was recently exorcised and fuses it into the Decor along with his cards to make-

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And the episode ends. Couple things to mention about 45, for one the reveal that the generals were actually corrupted fairies really did come out of nowhere, Pop even recognizes them and he knew they were missing but apparently no one ever put two and two together. I guess if it was ever mentioned to use it would’ve been too obvious but still.

45 and 46 next also don’t have as good animation as surrounding episodes, it’s not terrible but not to the level of 40-44. Guess they had to skimp somewhere. The redemption of the generals is done pretty well, it’s not as emotionally impactful or well set up as Westar and Soular’s turn in Fresh but it’s better than Kumojacky and Cobraja in Heartcatch. And then the action for their final fights is not as good as the fights against Kumojacky and Cobraja but it’s better than Westar and Soular got. So Smile is like the jack of all trades for this part.

It’s pertinent to talk about Joker too. He learned his lesson. His scheme this episode was perfect, nothing stupid like Kawarino or Mucardia, Joker set himself up so he couldn’t fail. Generals win? Good, Precure are defeated. Generals lose? Who cares, I gathered Bad Energy across the whole world and still have another stalling tactic to use. Joker unlike so many other villains finally learned from his mistakes in previous episodes and it’s part of why he’s the best villain. It’s also important to talk about what he mentions above, the evil from the hearts of the generals being the sadness, hatred, etc. that everyone bears. That is important foreshadowing when it comes to Pierrot in many ways.

On to episode 46.

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The Bad End Cures are evil clones of the others. Unlike the Yes5 Dark Cures or the Heartcatch Mirror Cures these aren’t created from the Smile girls in any way, Joker just molded them to be similar. And they’re completely evil. They’re twisted versions of our heroines. Bad End Happy tells Happy how much she loves happy things just like her, and she loves it even more when she sees people sad or hurt because she only cares about her own happiness, so it’s time to make the world drown in despair!

Joker transports the girls all to individual pocket dimensions where they fight one on one with their counterparts. As far as the quality of the fights go there really isn’t much straightforward action, just a lot of talking and energy blasts etc. So the fights are pretty disappointing. The quality of the Bad End Cures as characters is okay, Happy is easily the best, then March > Sunny > Beauty > Peace. BE Peace has very little to do with Yayoi’s character or character arc, the others have a bit more to them, BE March insults the weak and BE Sunny has no desire for friends, wanting to be a scorching sun that destroys everything.

Joker meanwhile tries to get the Miracle Jewel from Pop, who of course is doing his damnedest to protect Candy. Pissed off at everything Joker’s done Pop asks him just what the hell he wants the Miracle Jewel for? What sick twisted wish does he have? Joker decides to humor him, what he’s going to wish for is-

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He doesn’t have any wishes at all. Who cares about something like that when Pierrot is just going to end the world all on his own? But Joker says that ending the world isn’t enough, all hopes and dreams need to be crushed for true despair to be achieved. The Miracle Jewel is the symbol of hope, that’s right, he’s going to smash it to pieces.

The girls hear this, they can’t let him kill Candy but they’re still getting beat around by the Bad End Cures.

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Joker is about to kill Pop and Candy when the Royal Clock opens and a projection of the Queen comes in, protecting them. Joker is surprised, but then quickly notices something is wrong with the Queen.

She’s dead.

She’s not sleeping, or in stasis or anything like that, the Royal Queen has been dead all along. That’s one of the reasons why she didn’t revive in episode 23, she’s used the last of her power to protect Candy, her daughter and the next Queen of Marchenland. Joker takes all this in with glee, there is no Miracle Jewel, it was all a lie by the Queen to steer enemies away from the truth. That form Candy is in now is an egg and will hatch with the final Decor. Candy being the next Queen explains all her powers and Joker is happy because a newborn Queen will be no threat at all to Pierrot. He doesn’t care about Candy or the “Miracle Jewel” anymore, time to give Pierrot his true revival!

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He turns everything on the planet into Bad Enery, plants, animals, buildings, it all turns to Bad Energy and gets sucked into Pierrot. Leaving the Earth a barren wasteland similar to when Gohyaan destroyed the Fountain of the Sun in Splash Star. The clock starts spinning wildly and goes higher and higher, at this time the Bad End Cures also pulverizes the girls with their attacks. It looks like things are over and Joker gloats to the Royal Queen about it.

But the Queen disagrees, she has hardly given up hope like he expects. She believes that Candy can overcome anything with the Precure. And speaking of our girls they continue to fight back against the BE Cures. Bad End Happy tells her that the world is ending, the future wont work out well  but Happy says that she will never give up, as long as the future remains brilliant and in reach she is Cure Happy!

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They each tell off their evil counterpart, telling them who they are, all the things that made them this way, their desires, what’s in their hearts. Sunny wants to be a warm sun that shines down on her friends, Peace wishes everyone will be kind and achieve world peace, March says how she never backs down and becomes strongest in a pinch, Beauty says that outer beauty is not what’s important, the beauty in ones heart is and she will protect those beautiful hearts.

They all power up into Winged Decor mode and unleash their attacks on the Bad End Cures.

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It’s pretty cool, Happy in particular ends up in a big beam battle against BE Happy, the way Beauty dispatches BE Beauty is also great. Happy also unleashes one hell of a scream too, Misato Fukuen is great. So anyways they defeat the BE Cures and escape from those little worlds and get the last Decor. It’s a crown, nice touch.

Joker is shocked. He seems about to completely lose it that his Bad End Cures were defeated, he’s on the brink of collapsing into a sobbing mess… psyche!

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He doesn’t care at all and he laughs maniacally at the foolish Precure. So what if they defeated the Bad End Cures? Pierrot is about to revive, everything is already over! The clock hits 99 and Pierrot’s egg disappears from the sky. What just happened?

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Suddenly a drop of the black paint falls onto Joker. He’s absorbed into Pierrot, smiling the whole time. Then some strange gigantic monsters start to pop up all over the world, Pop sees them and recognizes them as the things that painted a bad end over Marchenland.

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The Giants of Despair! Pop puts the last Decor into the box asking for Candy to wake up…

I gotta say, Pierrot knows how to make an entrance. Those things are big. Joker as well gets to die perfectly happy and content, thinking he’s won. He’s the only villain who gets a death like that. Some were disappointed he didn’t get a real final fight but his death is honestly so perfect for him it doesn’t bother me.

When it was revealed that Candy is the next Queen of Marchenland and Joker doesn’t really give a shit about the Miracle Jewel a ton of plot points all collided together and disappeared. Royal Clock, revival of the Queen, Miracle Jewel, all essentially the same thing. But there are some interesting reveals next episode.

Onto 47 and the beginning of the final battle.

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Candy has awoken as the new Queen of Marchenland, Royal Candy. The girls also get to talk to the vanishing Royal Queen one last time… is… is her name Queen? Well anyways, she says she’s powerless now and Candy tells her that she and all the other fairies in Marchenland love her so much. The Queen thanks them all, telling them that the future is still pure white and to paint a beautiful tomorrow. She’ll be watching over them. She then bestows the true Miracle Jewel to Candy, it can’t grant any wishes but using its light of hope it can guide the way out of the depths of despair. She also leaves them the Precure book, the pages still blank for them to create the future with. The girls say they’ll create the future with their own hands.

And now…

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The girls give Pop the book to hold and the Giants of Despair begin to paint a bad end over the Earth. Royal Candy though has the power to stop them, she flies up and begins using her power to suppress the giants. But then he appears.

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Pierrot forms from what looks like a bunch of that ink or something like that, some sort of evil goo. As expected of him by now his entrance is awesome and his new design is great. Visually Pierrot has the best design and style of any Precure villain. All of his forms and such are really well made. He uses his power to counter Candy and while she has to concentrate completely on keeping the Giants down Pierrot is strong enough where he can also make an army of monsters out of black ink beneath him. Pretty creative looks to some of them.

The Precure go to defend Candy, instantly going into Winged Decor mode, and leave Pop with the book. The animation is good and there’s some cool stuff and really big attacks, as well as nice combo attacks between March/Sunny and Peace/Beauty. But at the same time I’m sort of disappointed with this type of fight, I wanted more like a Gohyaan style fight not a Despariah/Moebius one. It’s similar to the Despariah fight in another way too, the monsters endlessly regenerate. The girls are getting exhausted and they have no idea what to do.

Pierrot tells them it’s pointless to even think about, there’s nothing they can do. Just give up and accept the futility of their actions. The monsters tart beating the girls and Happy asks just what the heck is he?

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Malice, he says simply. Along with sadness, anger, hate, loneliness, all negative emotions. The negative feelings that everyone has inside them gave birth to Pierrot, even the Precure have them inside themselves. The collective negative emotions of humanity have created a bottomless pit of despair. Infinite, eternal despair that will swallow the world. The tale of despair that goes on as long as people exist. The future will be dark!

The girls wonder how they can even fight something like him, they can’t even contemplate this tale of despair.

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Pierrot attacks Pop and gets him to drop the book, and then drops the black ink onto it. Their future has now been painted with a bad end and it forces some sort of mind control/breaking on them. They now begin to fall into the depths of despair.

Candy sees this and she starts to use the Miracle Jewel to help out the girls, Pierrot orders his monsters to attack her and while she’s able to shield herself it’s taking a clear toll on her.

We see the girls falling deeper and deeper into despair (inside their heads they’re in some sort of dark world) they’re forgetting everything, not caring about anything, giving up all hope. Pierrot says Candy can’t reach them but she knows better and her voice finally does break through to the girls right as they’re about to give it all up. Candy tells them not to give up, the future is still a pure white! Happy and the others snap out of it but Pierrot’s power and the despair start to physically pull them in deeper now. They fight as hard as they can to get out, Happy says that she’s discovered what Hope is now, hearing Candy has given her the answer.

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Just when it seems hopeless the light of hope from the Miracle Jewel connects Candy’s feelings and the girls and they’re able to get out of the depths of despair. The Precure book and the girls Smile Pacts shine brightly, the black ink is erased, but Candy has used up all her power and Pierrot is about to kill her!.

When suddenly a new transformation takes place.

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Candy has reverted from being Royal Candy but the others have achieved their Ultra forms. Pierrot is angered and surprised by them escaping the Bad End World but still thinks what they’re doing is pointless, he tells them everything will become a bad end. And then the girls instantly and effortlessly eradicate his army and the Giant of Despair behind him. Pierrot shows genuine shock, wondering how the hell they could’ve done this?!

Happy tells him:

“Candy bet with her life to guide us. Thanks to her, we found the light of hope in the midst of despair. I understand what hope is now! Hope is… my friends! As long as I am with my precious friends, no matter how painful the future may be, I can walk forward with a smile! That is what makes us the Smile Precure!”

Pierrot looks like he’s about to blow a gasket, his eyes glow red and-

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He gets the ever loving shit beat out of him. The effect with March’s kick even makes it look like blood comes out of his stomach. It’s such an amazing beatdown, it’s also similar but like a reverse of what happens to the Director in episode 47 of GoGo. The girls there hit him with their attacks but it went Dream, Rouge, Lemonade, Aqua, Mint. Here it goes, March, Beauty, Peace, Sunny, Happy. The colors are reversed. I can’t help but think this was intentional.

But he’s not defeated just yet. What they did was essentially just destroy his avatar.

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Pierrot gathers up all the Bad Energy on Earth and goes into his true most base form. Simply a massive collection of all that negative energy. Now the world shall meet a bad end.

Pierrot becomes the biggest villain ever in the franchise. He’s even noticeably bigger than Black Hole was. His true form also makes a lot of sense, especially after what Joker said and showed us in episode 45 and what Pierrot said earlier, he himself is Bad Energy. Even this form ends up having some cool design elements to it in the next episode as well. The whole in-joke by Toei I mentioned concerning Pierrot and the Kyuubi sharing a voice is that the Kyuubi was also stated to be a collection of evil and malice and the Naruto anime is of course made by Studio Pierrot. Pierrot is actually a really well done villain despite his little screentime and simplicity, he’s better done than Dune, Despariah and the Director. He’s really no-nonsense and doesn’t mess around like Joker, he just does everything seriously. The clown theme was clearly chosen by him, it’s obvious he wasn’t always a clown, I always thought he might’ve done this because clowns are normally something that’s supposed to make people happy and Pierrot taking a form like that is him twisting it. Also as I mentioned earlier Pierrot is like an amalgamation of a bunch of different villain types, made from humanity’s negative emotions similar to Noise but focused on despair like Despariah and then also just 100% evil and monstrous like Gohyaan and the Dark King. The girls don’t try to redeem or understand him ever, because there’s nothing to understand. He’s just evil. The fight against him also takes cues from multiple past fights.

The Royal Queen is also pretty amazing for not appearing much either. She completely out-planned and out-maneuvered everyone else. Keeping secrets within secrets she ensured the girls victory this episode by keeping the truth about the Miracle Jewel hidden, tricking Joker into thinking there was no Miracle Jewel at all. She wasn’t around much but she was a badass. She had everything planned from the very beginning.

The visuals in episode 47 were very good and the next episode preview did something I really like, it didn’t preview the final episode at all. It went over a collage of images of the girls all having fun together and stuff and Miyuki just thanked everyone for watching.

Episode 47 does a really good job of portraying the theme of friendship and being able to do anything as long as they’re together that’s so prevalent in Smile. And it makes what happens in the final episode so much more powerful.

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To start the final episode the opening plays instantly, no little intro scene or recap at the beginning. After that we see Pierrot’s giant hand hanging over the planet, just like we’ve seen in the opening all the time. The animation this episode is good. Happy tells the other girls to not give up on the future yet and Candy (who is still in her “normal” form and not Royal Candy right now) uses the Royal Clock and together the girls use Ultra Rainbow Burst to create a huge attack that strikes the center of Pierrot’s hand. But he effortlessly overcomes it and smashes his hand into the Earth.

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He shatters the Earth in the most detailed scene of destruction the franchise has. The power of Pierrot also causes the girls to lose their transformations and the Smile Pacts petrify and break. The girls are horrified at the destruction they see and the massive true form of Pierrot.

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He says they now must experience true sadness so the world can fall into true despair, only then will his victory be complete. But Miyuki and the others aren’t having any of that crap.

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They don’t want things to end like this, they have dreams, people they want to protect, they want to be happy and have fun together, they want to live! These strong feelings awaken the Miracle Jewel and the last bit of power inside of it, if they use it a final miracle will occur… but if they use that power, as Pop tells them, the jewel will be destroyed and the door of books will close and the bridge between Marchenland and the Earth will disappear. They’ll never see each other again.

What a punch in the gut. After everything they’ve been through, everything they’ve overcome with the desire to live happily and be together, now the only way to win will result in them being separated forever. Especially after all those speeches and what just happened in episode 47, this is a knife to the gut.

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The girls say they can’t let Pierrot go on and destroy the world but Miyuki can’t accept it. She could get through anything as long as her friends are with her, but this? And it’s because of Candy that Miyuki was able to meet and become friends with everyone else. It’s not fair! The others don’t want to be separated either, they all hug and cry together (There is a LOT of crying this episode). They all want to be friends forever, it just isn’t fair.

This reaction just makes the girls so much more relateable and human to me. They’re not perfect, they don’t have the strongest hearts, they can’t accept something so cruel. In the end they’re just regular girls and I love that about them.

Pierrot says that this it. True despair. They’ve lost hope, they’ve lost what allowed them to win in the past, tomorrow will not come and the world will end.

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Miyuki says she doesn’t know what’s important anymore? How can she go on when either outcome will result in sadness?

But now it’s Candy’s time to rise up. She reminds Miyuki of her own words. She tells all the girls how glad she is to have met all of them, all the happy times they had together and how much she loves them. She doesn’t want to separate either. But she wants to share the same ultra happiness wit