viernes, 28 de abril de 2017

SOMEONE WICKED THIS WAY COMES

Kirakira Precure à la Mode
Episode 12 - My Own Review

SOMEONE WICKED THIS WAY COMES

Thanks to the Festival, the KiraPâti business is thriving, and the Precures are the talk of Ichigozaka town.
So far, no one but they know their respective powered identities, which is great because it ensures no collateral damage (Akira Kenjó herself could never have said it better; "It could put the people around us in danger.").

However, no one has noticed an ominous presence on a treetop outside the pâtisserie...
GIULIO: The power of sweets, the kirakiraru... it grows to shine even more brightly within the human heart (hito no kokoro no naka).
And thus, the seeds are sown, as he scries the hearts of passing-by young female customers, for a sinister modus operandi...

Quite soon, a raven-haired and azure-eyed, comely stripling appears as a new student at Ichigozaka Chúgakkó (Secondary School)...

"LEO": Leo Kuroki. It's a pleasure to meet you all.


(Well, I settled for Leo with the English pronunciation [a long E], instead of Ryou, because the given name is in katakana, used to transcribe Western names. Also, his surname means literally "Black!")

"LEO KUROKI"



ALL FEMALE CHÚGAKUSEI: Squeeeeeee!!!
Quite soon, the whole female student body is swarming for the blue-eyed lad.
LISA (CHÚGAKUSEI WITH BOB HAIRCUT): That badass (kakkoii) Leo belongs to all of us equally!!


CHÚGAKUSEI WITH BRAIDS (trembling): You're too amazing... Ser Leo... (She drops her textbooks, which Leo kindly picks up and gives to her)
LEO (giving the girl her books): Careful now...
CHÚGAKUSEI WITH BRAIDS: Th-thank you-you... (She gets a hot flash)
LEO (prodding the girl's brow with a fingertip): Little Miss Scatterbrain.
(In response, she flushes red as a beetroot, even steaming)


All those other female secondary students of course grow jealous...
ALL FEMALE CHÚGAKUSEI: Squeeeeeee!!! Leo, over here! Me too! Me too-oo!!
LEO: Hey now, geez...


In the meantime, the male secondary students stand in the shade, gnashing their teeth.
MALE CHÚGAKUSEI IN THE MIDDLE: I hate that heartthrob (ikemen)!!

They'll change their tune when it's (association) footie time at the sports hour, when his feet have practically become one with the ball.
LISA: You're amazing (kakkoii), Leo!!


Without losing his cool, Leo steals the ball from an opponent
and takes a badass leap into the sky.
LISA, OTHER LEO FANGIRLS: He's soaring!!


Then, as said opponent is losing his footing and about to fall, Leo gracefully lands on his feet and packs the other boy by the waist, saving him.
LEO'S OPPONENT: S-sorry!
LEO (coolly): What are you sorry for?
LEO'S OPPONENT (gasping): What?


The female audience's reaction is priceless.
ALL FEMALE CHÚGAKUSEI: Squeeeeeee!!!
LEO: Unless we're both going for it for real, it's not much of a game, right? C'mon! Let's do it!
All the while, he's had the ball under his foot, or at the tip of his toes as he runs after it. And this encourages the opposing team to dash off in pursuit of him!


BOY WITH BAND-AID ON THE RIGHT CHEEK: Guess the new boy has some hot blood after all...
HIMARI: He's getting popular even among the other boys...
LISA (starry-eyed, smitten): Badass! A super transfer student! Awwwww...

After class, however, a sinister Giulio wanders through Ichigozaka approaching young people and asking about the treats they have consumed...
GIULIO (in a sinister tone): Where the sweets you ate... delicious (oishii)?
YOUNG MAN (startled): Wh-ho are you!?
GIULIO: When you have eaten sweets, the kirakiraru within your heart will increase...
YOUNG MAN: Heh!?
In response, Giulio produces his little black dagger and all we can hear is the young man's scream of agony offscreen as we see, ironically, a bright day sky.
YOUNG MAN: Aaaaaaaaagh!!!

This scene shows us Giulio, like Norman Bates, is someone to be wary off. 
The offscreen stabbing is done exactly like the shower scene in Psycho to accomplish the same dramatic effect.

The next day at class at the Chúgakkó, a rumour is spreading about what happened:
GIULIO'S OPPONENT FROM THE DAY BEFORE: You heard what happened to Saito from Grade 3?
BOY WITH BAND-AID ON THE RIGHT CHEEK: Yeah. But you know the Precures won't let it stay a mystery!


LEO: Pleased to meet you (Hajimemashite).

It's as if I knew you, but I don't even know you at all...

Leo has made his first moves towards the Cures already; now let's see whither this leads us!

At the pâtisserie, Aoi seems not to get why this boy's gone viral just in a day...
AOI: What's with all the buzz about this new transfer student?

Right then, the pixies that had once been the winter cour's Monsters of the Week
pop up, startling Pekorin and the Elder, and bend before them and the Precures, asking for forgiveness.
Which leads to another flashback explaining the backstory, namely:

THE PIXIES' START OF DARKNESS!
We weren't always evil. Once we used to live just like you in peace and happiness...
To be stronger... to be greater... to be prettier...  We all had different dreams like those.
Those were the dreams that...
GIULIO (giving Gummy a belt with a black star): Don't you want to be even, even stronger? If you stole the kirakiraru from the sweets that humans make, you could become much, much stronger.

As soon as the pixies strap their respective belts on, their eyes glow red and they roar in pain as they are possessed by a dark force.

All the while Giulio, the dark force concealing his face, smiled smugly to himself...

When we put on those belts, our feelings (kimochi) intensified and intensified, until they grew out of control.

ELDER: When you put your heart into the sweets you make, everyone who eats them will be filled with smiles! This is the way of the Legendary Pâtissières, the Pretty Cures!

Given meowcarons as a token of reconciliation, the pixies (who were not in their right mind when they swarmed for kirakiraru) have finally found themselves, feeling able to enjoy once more.
So it seems that those corruption belts made kirakiraru addictive; "like honey to the throat but poison in the blood" to quote a Victorian narrative poem's vivid simile to describe drug euphoria and addiction.

At class, the next day, after those two guys discuss the attack on Saito, Leo makes his next move by spotting a recipe notebook next to Usami's desk...
LEO: New sweets? For that shop?

Look at him all smug and ostensibly friendly... hehehehe...


Suddenly, Lisa storms in with a suggestion for the KiraPâti:
LISA: How about these cupcakes for the new menu? They're kawaii and delicious (oishii)!! Something I totally love (daisuki)!! That means I get the first taste, right?
Even Leo gets invited to come and make those cupcakes for the afternoon.
LEO: Is that so? Then, for sure!

When they show up at the Pâtisserie, it becomes clear that Aoi may be the only one at the secondary school who has not a clue on who Leo Kuroki is.
LEO: 'Afternoon.
AOI (shocked): Whaat!? You're the ikemen transfer student everyone is talking about!?
HIMARI: Don't say it so loud! He may hear you!!
(Aoi shifts into Awkward Mode, covering her mouth)

LEO: Pleased to meet you all. I guess I'm that "ikemen transfer student everyone is talking about."
Then he lets out an innocent, friendly chuckle... but who could suspect there's something sinister about this lad?

As he is shown around the kitchen, our ensemble oneesama shows signs of suspicion...
AOI (noticing Yukari's frown): Oh... Is something wrong?
YUKARI (coldly): Nothing at all.


LEO: I'm not so good at making sweets, actually...
This raises a few questions, such as whether Leo has really made any treats before, indeed.

LEO (dejected, sighing): A long time ago...

So something happened in between that made Leo stop with the sweets-making... this is getting interesting until we get his start of darkness revealed!
LEO: Lisa, you've got after-school, right? Then, it's time to get started!

LEO: To start, try beating the cream back and forth against the sides of the bowl. 
When it starts to thicken, make more of a large oval, reaching down to the bottom to get lots of air in. 
That should make the whipped cream light and fluffy.

So our boy is a bit of an expert, eh? Nothing we know about his academic knowledge or cultural level, but so far he's shown impressive skills when it comes to ball sports and pâtisserie, aside from his good looks. Still a bit away from being a Marty Stu, but those skills he knows are sure impressive.

The cream has even become far fluffier than usual! 
Time for a high five and for saying thanks!

However, this demonstration of skill has taken Lisa by surprise...
LISA: Wait... Leo, didn't you say you were no good at making sweets?
LEO: Ah... That's just common knowledge!

Once the über-fluffy (Flaaffy?) cupcake has been decorated (looks like the Pokémon Flaaffy, right?) Leo closes in on it... apparently, his eyes can see the kirakiraru within the cake. A little cream cupcake that will soon be ingested and its kirakiraru contents will increase within the system of that person...

LISA: They're really great!
While no one is watching, our ikemen, looking at the cupcake, smiles in quite a sinister way...

That evening, Leo escorts Lisa to her after-school academy. A gentlemanly act, isn't it?
LISA: I wish I could eat one right now!! But I've got after-school, and I don't wanna spoil my supper...
LEO (whispering in her left ear): Let's share one together.
LISA: Eh?
Both youngsters sit down on a park bench for a rest.

LEO: Because... you want to eat cupcake, don't you?
(OMINOUS BACKGROUND MUSIC)

LISA (after thinking just for a second): I guess just one would be okay...

So she puts a cupcake to her lips and takes a first bite.
LISA (enjoying the taste): Oishii!!

As she keeps on nomming on that cupcake, her cavalier just looks on, so sinisterly smiling...
(OMINOUS BACKGROUND MUSIC)
LISA: Leo, don't you want one?
LEO: It's all right for me. I have my eyes on something... far more scrumptious.
As he says these words, Leo scries into Lisa's heart, glittering with kirakiraru in the middle of her chest.

Drawing a familiar black dagger, his pupils narrow until they look like a viper's.

As he prods with the garnet tip of his dagger the left side of Lisa's chest,
the tomboyish girl screams in agony.

LISA: AAAAAAAAH!!!

LEO (looking at the kirakiraru that has flocked around his dagger): As I predicted. By leaving kirakiraru to gestate within a human heart, it grows considerably. What's more...

...It seems like their sweets are special as well.

Donning a golden Venetian mask that makes his eyes glow, and his hair turn a fairer shade of blue and grow long...

...Leo reveals himself as being Giulio all along...

As the Precures arrive on the scene,
Lisa lies unconscious, breathing shallowly, 
on the bench where Leo -Giulio- has sapped her dry of kirakiraru.
And he is right about to turn his back and leave the scene...

You know the drill.
CURE À LA MODE! DECORATION!
Kirakira Precure à la Mode!!

GIULIO: I only took a li'l bit of kirakiraru from her heart.

Lisa is still in the same painful state as before.

GIULIO: Come on, Precures. Won't you join my experiment?

GIULIO (producing his dagger): Kirakiraru! Stained in darkness!

GIULIO (raising his dagger skywards): Noire Décoration!
Lightning shoots up his right arm, turning the dagger into a broadsword of black crystal.

CURE MACARON: Dark kirakiraru?

(I think I'll call it Lightbringer...)
There you have the broadsword. 
It's about the size of Giulio, yet the stripling can wield it as if it were light as a feather.

GIULIO (enjoying himself): What tremendous power...

GIULIO: Please allow me to test it on you immediately!

That sword is all full of dark kirakiraru... And, furthermore, that black star on the hilt looks just like those on the pixies' belts; isn't that enough to put two and two together?

Don't tell me... You were the mastermind that was controlling the others!?

GIULIO (chortling, brandishing his broadsword): "Mastermind" (kuromaku), eh? I like the sound of that word. My name is Giulio, may you remember it!!

CURE MACARON: "Giulio"... Isn't it a nice name?

Then we get this badass curbstomp battle, Giulio vs. Macaron. They're both moving so fast that it's hard to describe the fight in detail; what matters is that our oneesama does these impressive somersaults and back flips, and she is always one step ahead of the villain.


But my fave part was, needless to say, the Giulio vs. Chocolat swordfight.
I knew it was coming. As a vivid lover of Takarazuka, and period pieces, and Shakespeare, I'm always in for a good rapier fight. And this one's not disappointing at all!! Even if Giulio winds up disarming Chocolat within a matter of strokes, we know that the tables will soon be turned upon him when the Akira-centric episode comes along...

GIULIO: Horrible things!? I am merely conducting an experiment! I must know more about the power of the kirakiraru that lies within humans!
(Makes me think of Iago in the original Boito libretto of the Verdian opera...)

Then he gets quite irate when Cure Whips tells him that sweets are supposed to be a happy thing...
GIULIO: Sweets? Happy? (In a fit of rage) Are you kidding me!!?? 
(Calming down, clenching his fist around the pommel, rage and dark kirakiraru seething within his heart under the cravat.) As far as sweets go... THERE'S NOTHING I HATE (DAIKIRAI) MORE!!!
As his anger flows back again, the sword gets even more dark crystal spikes and looks more threatening... So he sends out some rays of darkness to left and right, obviously relishing it, while a fugue on an ominous pipe organ plays in the background... The swirl of rays of darkness comes spiralling forth at the Precures, and it looks just like the technique for whipping cream Leo had demonstrated!

Of course you knew what was coming next (aside from the reveal that Leo's pupils are shaped like diamonds or four-pointed stars):
The Cures getting their heroic second wind and performing their hissatsu 3 2 Wonderful (Sweets Wonderful) à la Mode!!

So they encase the broadsword in their cake and turn it back into the usual dagger.

Of course all the kirakiraru comes back to find its way back into Lisa's heart...

She finally awakens, breathing normally, though slightly groggy.

GIULIO (examining his dagger): Is this the power of the Precures?

Then, he just hops off into the twilight sky.

LISA: I wonder what happened to me...
The Precures listen, bracing themselves for this redoubtable new enemy's sake.
AOI: Who's he, anyway?

The next morning, Giulio crosses paths with Ichika Usami and some other secondary school girl on their way to class.

GIULIO (thinking): That time. That technique which I taught...
(Speaking): Oh... 'Morning!

He's just one step away from figuring out who the Precures are in their day-to-day lives...


MY OWN HUMBLE OPINION:
OHMIGODS THE FEELS THE FEELS!! We got to see the standard 2010s Precure villain procedure, a swordfight to equal all those Shut vs. Scarlet battles I've missed sooo much (and the Red Viper fight, of course!), Giulio infiltrating one of the schools the Cures attend... well, let's start with that aspect, shall we?
WHAT WAS A SHAME (IMOHO): The fact that Giulio/Leo infiltrated Ichigozaka Chúgakkó (the secondary school) instead of Ichigozaka Kókó (the high school), where the Zuka Cures attend. Guess it's because the Freudian Trio were made by the creators to be audience surrogates (the same applies to the Inner Senshi, who are far less popular than the Outers among the fanbase; or to Harry+Ron+Hermione being given far more prominence canonwise, and less popularity among the fans, than Ginny+Neville+Luna!)... Anyway, this Leo Kuroki boy at high school would be far less of the big fish in a little pond than he is in his secondary surroundings, where his good looks and skill at sports, especially association footie, have made his popularity skyrocket overnight! And he's also an ace pâtissier! When it comes to his academic achievements/cultural level, however, nothing is known so far. So we'll have to wait until further episodes...
THE PIXIES' BACKSTORY AND A LITTLE MORE HINTS: Like when it came to Kuroro's relation of being possessed by Lock, we got a little more backstory for both the cadres and the whole dramatic evil scheme. So far, we got to know that they were controlled and/or addicted to kirakiraru by these black-star belts, having been swayed by Giulio's false promises of excitement, beauty, knowledge... basically the Heart's Desire of each pixie in particular. This set-up is enticing indeed, and you know how much I luv the Your Heart's Desire premise basically because it establishes that humans are flawed while leaning slightly more towards the "bastards" or at least "weaklings" half of the equation...
YUKARI'S SUSPICIONS: She was both standard aloof-ally-mistrusting and "You-know-nothing-Jon-Snow" about this Leo Kuroki boy. I love how her cool and pensive nature shines through in this case.
GIULIO'S MO: It was eons since we got some good old-fashioned heart snatching, right? Well, Giulio Kuroki has just made our day! First tempting the victim of the week to eat the treat of the week (in a way quite similar to the Selfcenters' [and Iago's!] ear whispers!), then draining the victim's heart dry of kirakiraru with his dagger, then staining the kirakiraru with darkness and using it to change his dagger into a different and more powerful weapon, that gets him drunk on power. Something that tells me that the Man (or Woman?) Behind the Lad has made Giulio addicted to kirakiraru like Giulio himself made the pixies addicted... He also seems to want to know more about the powers of kirakiraru, and is willing to experiment even if it puts lives on the line, which makes me wonder about his motives even more...
So far, the Cures don't know that Giulio is Leo (they appeared on the scene after he had transformed), but he is in the process of learning their identities... how will this develop further?
THE SWORDFIGHT: Whoa whoa whoa!! I need to have my blood pressure checked!! Screw Oberyn, screw Shut... Akira Kenjo/Cure Chocolat is the new badass when it comes to combat (well, sharing first place with Astrid Kolfinnsdóttir, of course)! I wanted so badly a Chocolat vs. Giulio duel... AND MY WISH CAME TRUE!! Even though the villain disarmed the bifauxnen in less time than it takes to say "Expelliarmus", within a few weeks we'll get Akira's limelight episode and I'm eager for the rematch!!!


IN NEXT EPISODE (12):

Our introvert gets called to shoot an ad on television;
it's obviously a hassle thanks to all her indecision!

They should have hired somebody whose confidence is higher;
yet a plot without challenge is, trust me, sure guaranteed to tire...


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