“Force, as in we’re a force to be reckoned with. Five, as in there’s one..two …three..four..five of us.” – Pulp Fiction
I can’t tell you how much I’ve been requested “What are your thoughts on this?” when having a Saban-licenses-Pretty-Cure article posted on my wall almost every other hour. While I’ve been well aware that Saban did have the Pretty Cure localization license, I’ve always been under the belief that Saban will localize Pretty Cure, but it might not be the Pretty Cure we know. Considering that Saban and 4Kids have had reputations of adapting and twisting children’s anime to suit the needs of FCC broadcast standards, it doesn’t surprise me that the Pretty Cure adaptation would go by the way of Card Captor Sakura (Card Captors) or Tokyo Mew Mew (Mew Mew Power). Too many people in my generation of anime watching have been burned by this trend and tend to ignore the adaptation and stick with the originals.
But what if I told you that Saban’s Glitter Force series keeps the spirit of the original, though under a different name and some localization changes?
I was quite surprised with Glitter Force. I’ve only seen a handful of “Smile Pretty Cure.” It’s your standard kids’ shoujo anime. Girl meets a cute creature, teams up with different girls, girls form a team, and somehow save the world against a rouge’s gallery of wacky villains. It’s a formula that’s worked for shoujo anime since Sailor Moon and it seems to be working just fine for the Pretty Cure franchise. 90s fans of Sailor Moon were raging though they have not seen an episode of Pretty Cure. They were worried that Pretty Cure would get the same treatment ala DIC / Cloverway as what had happened to Sailor Moon – unnecessary gender changes, relationships redefined, and debatable casting. However, Pretty Cure as it is fits the general FCC regulations of the more politically correct and conservative 90s.
What helps Glitter Force is that it is a Netflix series. When Glitter Force came out, the first half (20 episodes) were released all at once. Netflix marathons are pretty common and entertaining kids with what’s on Netflix is a thing. Kids (and the grownup shoujo nerds) can check it out anytime without setting a VCR timer. However, it is important to keep in mind that Glitter Force is specifically aimed at little girls in western English speaking countries. There are a few things that are localized – a trip to Kyoto becomes the “Pan Asian Expo.” Names are changed to keep things localized. Of course, because it’s Saban, you’ll have some one liners ranging from brilliant (a few great lines about the girls fighting with big hair) and what-the-heck-were-they-thinking?. However, it’s not as cringeworthy as Power Rangers Mega Force or offensive as DIC Sailor Moon. Hand to hand combat is still kept and the girls are true to their personality.
Glitter Force does hold up as a show aimed at young girls. It might not be for the casual shoujo fan (or Madoka fan), but it is an enjoyable series if you have a little niece or a little boy who loves this type of stuff. The five girls have relate-able traits from the sporty one, the smart one, the do-gooder, the shy one, and the daydreaming one. When it comes to OpEd articles claiming there is very little pickings in “strong female characters” in comics and media, Glitter Force is the answer. Strong females don’t always have to be found in strength, but can be found in emotion and friendship. In Facebook groups, Sailor Moon fans have accused Glitter Force and Pretty Cure of being a ripoff of the classic shoujo series, but considering this has been a formula that has worked for Toei and has made them bank year over year, the parallels are undeniable, but it does not mean that both cannot be enjoyed all at once. Why not both?!
As I mentioned on Twitter, if Glitter Force is the gateway for a new generation to get into shoujo anime, so be it. I’d love to see kids check out the original Pretty Cure. Though there are no legal means of streaming the original Pretty Cure, if kids find out that there are dozens of more magical girls to relate to and to look up to, this can be something really big for fandom.