Go! Princess Precure Series Review

gopri 48

A decent outing.

Well, here I am – my first finished Pretty Cure under my belt. While, once upon a time, I tried this new magical girl show that people were raving about, it sure took me a loooong time to finally watch one of these from start to finish. Whether Go! Princess Precure was the one that should’ve been the iteration to prove this is a bit questionable, at least I’ve now got it figured out – these really *do* need to be watched over the course of a year. And, having figured this out, I was able to embark upon Mahoutsukai Precure a couple of hours ago with a clear conscience (happily, it was a strong opener for that show, so I didn’t immediately devolve into skepticism about the wisdom of my new approach).

As for Gopri… well, I can’t help but wish that it was better than it was. It’s a decent enough magical girl show that at times was quite good and had fantastic visual direction, but which at others dragged and delivered odd, if not potentially bad, messages. I, too, was never fully at ease with the whole princess-theming, although I will give some credit to the show for giving a slightly more worthwhile take on what it is to be a princess. And while the show did eventually develop the dreams of its central cast more, in a process that granted more maturity to their efforts and ideas, I was also uncomfortable with the focus placed on wealth and fame.

The cast, like the show, was a bit variable, too. Kirara is great, in part since she deviates the most from type – her disinterest in being a magical girl isn’t wholly original in the field, but her initial rejection was beautifully breezy. Yui is another solid character, albeit one who sadly gets recycled as a victim far too many times. Minami and Haruka hew much more closely to their archetypes, although they both get to develop and grow as the show goes on in ways that feel weighty, particularly toward the end. Then, ah, there’s Towa… and the less said, the better. Towa isn’t interesting, following an arc even the greenest anime fan has seen already elsewhere, and she’s hurt by having a very limited dream where the other girls are largely more long-term-oriented. Her dream, too, relies a lot on the actions of others, which undercuts it.

I want to touch on the visual direction and the choreography a bit. The transformation sequences very quickly got totally out of control (and the fancier outfits seem to generally get increasingly uglier!), as we get the multi-tiered transformations reminiscent of the ones in Wedding Peach (the usefulness of this as a reference is one I doubt, but it’s the closest to what gets done here that I can think of), but the battle scenes are regardless the most reliably good aspect of the show. Whoever did the choreography did a terrific job, giving us a dynamism that magical girl shows often scrimp on, and I really enjoyed the level of physicality they often involved. While things were less consistent outside of battle, there were several episodes that really stood out for their visual composition and direction (episode 20 is positively Ikuhara-esque), as well as some really beautifully done shots scattered throughout the show.

I’m trying not to talk about the final episode, which was REALLY GREAT, as this is supposed to be a general overview, so, uh, IT WAS REALLY GREAT. I was impressed with what a mature take on things it ultimately had, especially since it ran the risk of disappointing an audience surely expecting closure of the sort it didn’t quite provide. And remember me just shortly ago mentioning the fight scenes? Because episode 50’s blows everything out of the water; honestly, even if you have no intent of watching this show, I’d encourage you to go watch this part. It starts at 4:18 and goes through to 9:33. I’m sure some of the weight would be absent watching it sans context, but, damn, check out the visuals!

All in all, though, I can’t bring myself to recommend Gopri based on the fact that the show has excellent visuals from time to time. If you’re not already a magical girl fan, or a Precure fan, this is not a recommendation that I can make. Based on the general opinions of the English-language Precure fandom, too, there are better points of entry to this sprawling franchise (HeartCatch! Precure didn’t work for me, but it seems to have worked for just about everyone else). It’s much easier for me to instead express the hope that the folks responsible for the visual direction at its high points get to go on to work on more stuff, and stuff that isn’t solely targeted at eight year olds. (Not that there’s anything wrong with working on shows for young children – I just am not myself a young child, and I enjoy their work, so I’d love it if they’d get work on things I’m likelier to watch in the first place.) It isn’t that this is a bad show by any means – it’s just not one that I could ever declare as “must-see”, especially not with that high episode count. I’m glad I watched it; I wouldn’t guarantee another person would feel the same. A perfectly decent, sometimes inspiring, sometimes dragging, magical girl show.

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