Pure Love for the Pretty Cure?

The poster for Doki Doki Pretty Cure The Movie.

The poster for Doki Doki Pretty Cure The Movie.

One of theses days after watching a Pretty Cure film, I’m going to try and pick up some Japanese housewives.  Then fail utterly.

One of my favorite anime franchises for relaxing is most definitely Pretty Cure, primarily because the episodes are very simple in their form and structure, and I barely have think while watching them.  I enjoy the films for the same reasons, but I find the experience much more pleasurable if only because of the energy the children bring to the theater.  As with past films in the franchise, my experience with the most recent Pretty Cure film, Doki Doki Pretty Cure The Movie (映画ドキドキプリキュア マナ結婚!?未来につなぐ希望のドレス Eiga Doki Doki Pretty Cure Mana Kekkon!?  Mirai ni Tsunagu Kibou no Doresu) was pleasant.  It followed the three-act structure well, with at least one action scene per act to keep children from becoming to fidgety.  There were also some aesthetic choices that reminded me of how people think of 1950s space invader films, but there were some points where the animation style was different enough to pull me from those particular moments.  I also couldn’t help but feel the producers and writers missed a golden opportunity to slip in a message about how it’s important to use objects to their fullest extent, although for the purposes of telling a fun story to children, that’s a very minor concern.

The most common form of story development in Japanese literature—I’m not sure about other East Asian countries, though Classical Chinese writing influenced it—is a four point Kishotenketsu.  Some of the best examples of this are found in Japanese four panel comic strips, but it’s permeated most forms of literature in Japan.  The basic idea is in the first act, Ki, the audience is introduced to the main characters and their quest.  Then the second act, Sho, is the body of the story, but it leads to the third act twist, Ten.  In the final act, Ketsu, the story is brought to its conclusion.  While I have no issue with this storytelling technique, I feel the Western three-act structure is much more conducive for telling a thorough story.

Doki Doki Pretty Cure The Movie teeters on the edge of the Eastern and Western technique for storytelling, but in the end it has three clearly defined acts for children to follow.  There was a bit of skimming in the opening act but this is understandable because the writers correctly expected that most of the audience would be familiar with the characters.  It’s the body of the story children need to be engaged with, and the writers did a fine job of doing so by creating an action scene before there was a turn of events.  There are still instances where the writers were using the four point Kishotenketsu method, but the twist they used fits so well at the tail end of the second action scene it’s hardly noticeable.

I will admit, some of the extended dialog made the film feel much longer than it was, but this may because, being an adult, I had already pieced many of the plot points together well before the bulk of the story began.  For children, however, I doubt they found it to be the least bit dull because it gives them clues to what the third act twist would be.  But I did think the writers missed the chance to add a subtle message about the importance of using material objects to their fullest extent in some of the dialog.  This is more of an issue in the first act, when we get to hear the lament of objects that can still be used, if they had some minor repairs.  It’s a much more straightforward message for children, and while I was keen on the philosophical message of time heals all wounds, I think it’d be lost on such young children.

The one aspect of Doki Doki Pretty Cure The Movie I found to be the most charming were some of the aesthetic choices of the art team, not of the villain’s but of the method used to trap people in their memories.  It had a distinct feel of alien abduction films found in popular culture, and was a perfect fit for a film that was released just before Halloween, while still retaining the feel of a film that can be enjoyed year round.  There was one other point I found amusing, which was when Charuru and company were storming the castle, only to be chased by manikins coming out of the walls in the style of the robots from Castle in the Sky.  I couldn’t help but chuckle a bit to myself at that scene, and this is one section of the film in which anime fans can find unfettered enjoyment.

There was one instance where the animation was odd, though, which was during the second action scene when the main characters were doing battle with the villain on his air ship.  Every other action scene in the film uses traditional animation, but here the artists fell back on CGI character models, similar to those used in 009 RE:CYBORG.  While this isn’t much of an issue for children or casual observers, those who are paying close attention to the movements of the girls and their faces will definitely get a sense that something is off.  For me, I became very aware of this and it made me lose focus on what was happening with the story.  Instead, I wound up focusing solely on how the characters were modeled.  Again, I stress this isn’t much of an issue for children or casual observers; it was just something I noticed while watching the film.

All in all, Doki Doki Pretty Cure The Movie is what one would expect from a film of this caliber: entertaining for children, but lacking substantive content for adults.  That’s not to say I was bored with the film, far from it, but I can see how parents could lose interest quickly.  There were two surprises for me in the film as well, but they are so very minor they are hardly worth mentioning, but fans will find one of them to be amusing.  Like the other Pretty Cure films, this is one only fans of the franchise should consider seeing or parents should consider taking their children to.  I think it’s clear which I am.

Work Info
Title:
Doki Doki Pretty Cure The Movie (映画ドキドキプリキュア マナ結婚!?未来につなぐ希望のドレス Eiga Doki Doki Pretty Cure Mana Kekkon!?  Mirai ni Tsunagu Kibou no Doresu)
Under: Toei Animation
Official Site: http://precure-movie.com/
More Info: http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/映画_ドキドキ!プリキュア_マナ結婚!!?未来につなぐ希望のドレス

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