miércoles, 7 de junio de 2017


Kirakira Precure à la Mode
Episode 18 - My Own Review


(Ominous background music)

A bleak, dark world of ashes, without any visible sign of plant life. This is Giulio's homeworld, which we should call the Monde Noir... The cottage in the shade of the torn parasol is Giulio's...

Giulio is sitting by his broken dagger, sunken deep in concentration.

Before him sits an Elegant Gothic Lolita, wistfully grinning like a Cheshire Cat, with a ragdoll by her side.

BILBERRY: You really are the worst...

GIULIO: Bilberry!
BILBERRY: Disregarding Master Noir's orders and getting all caught up in your li'l experiments... Moreover, you even broke the dagger Master Noir gave you...

BILBERRY (leaning closer to Giulio, prodding his brow with an index finger): How lame.
(Notice that facial expression of hers, and Giulio's bruxism in response!)

BILBERRY (asking her ragdoll): Right, Iru?
IRU: That's right!
BILBERRY (picking Iru up and asking him once more): Right?
IRU: That's right!

BILBERRY (coyly leaning against Giulio's armchair): Right?
IRU: That's right!

BILBERRY (playfully prodding the crown of Giulio's head with his broken dagger): Right?
IRU: That's --
Interrupted; the ragdoll is cut short by the ikemen violently shoving the Perky Female Minion aside.


BILBERRY (hopping backwards and kicking the broken dagger at Giulio's feet): Hahaha (maniac laugh)!! Now, stay here like a good boy and think about what you've done. I'll go handle the rest!

Giulio is clearly not amused.

BILBERRY (leaving Giulio's place, getting inside her TARDIS): First, let's go greet the Precures at their KiraPâti...

Left alone, Giulio picks up his broken dagger...

...as he struggles to control the anger within.

**Cue opening credits**

Another day at the Pâtisserie... or isn't it?

AKIRA: Leo Kuroki has vanished into thin air...
YUKARI: Now that his real identity has come to light, I don't imagine he'll come back to school.
(Hasn't she considered that he might get an age-up and appear at Ichigozaka High with a new name, wearing the same uniform as the Zuka Cures?)

AOI: What on Earth was he trying to do in the first place? Disguising himself and trying to get that close to us...?

However, it's unusually quiet and empty today...

YUKARI (stroking Pekorin): There will always be days like these.
AKIRA: Let's just wait and see about Leo Kuroki, then...

On the next, rainy day, passersby pass by the sweetshop...

...and inside it's equally empty and quiet.

YUKARI (stroking Pekorin): There will always be days like these.
AKIRA: It's raining as well...

On the third day, in spite of the weather being fair, passersby still overlook the KiraPâti.

Something does not feel right at all...

YUKARI: Nice out there, isn't it?
AKIRA: (nods)

The three junior Cures don't know what to say.

We get our first outside glimpse of Ichigozaka Kókó (High School).
Doesn't it look all nice and palace-like with those neoclassical columns, eaves, windows, and dome?

At the end of the fourth schoolday, Akira is suddenly startled by the business end of a disposable cup phone dangling in front of her as she ambles downstairs.

Looking up, she sees it's a call from her fanclub.

AKIRA FANGIRLS (upstairs, at the other end of the phone): Lady Akira? Are you heading for the KiraPâti?
AKIRA: I am.
AKIRA FANGIRLS: There's something we wanted to tell you...

We never get to hear that phone call, but we get to see the reactions of the Cures to it in the KiraPâti that afternoon...
The junior Cures, at least, are in a state of shock.

Akira just tweaked the phone so all three juniors can listen closely. Yukari, however, is within earshot... (or something more <3 ?)

AKIRA: Yes, about the KiraPâti. Someone's been spreading these awful rumours...

AKIRA: Like... that, if you eat KiraPâti sweets...

AKIRA: ...your lover will leave you!! (koibito to wakareru!!)

Apparently, the rumours say also that KiraPâti sweets can destroy friendships ("tomodachi;" for "tomodachi" vs. "nakama," check out this whole Precure thread -- it's explained right in the Go! Princess reviews) and make all jokes told wrong...

But now let's pause for a moment about this imagine spot with Yukari as Akira's lover/koibito...

As for the HMS Yukakira, that Cinderella/Yukarella worst-case scenario imagine spot has really raised the bar; with our OTP in a fairytale scene in period costume / Akira in trousers!) and all that it entails, F!! Here the mercury and the blood pressure are rising!! As in...
1) This looks like a real-life Takarazuka Cinderella production!!
2) It's so dramatic!!
3) It would make a fine AU material; what with giving Yukari... let's say Bilberry for a stepsister and Shut for a stepbrother? And Ranko as another stepsister, by the way? And Kirara reprising the role of FGM she did in the School Play episode of GPPC? That would surely be a bibbidy-bobbidy-beautiful story, right?!

YUKARI: There's nothing that scares people off as much as bad gossip.
AKIRA: So that's... what's been going on with the KiraPâti.

However, it's just been four days! 
It cannot get worse... or can it?

Meanwhile at a fashion shop on Ichigozaka High Street...

...Bilberry is standing in front of the mirror, trying a new dress for two seconds, then discarding it for being allegedly lame and picking up another for two seconds... This goes on for six dresses.
BILBERRY: Lame. (New dress) Lame. (New dress) Lame. (New dress) Lame. (New dress) Lame. (New dress) Lame. (New dress)

BILBERRY (grumpy): This whole shop is lame.

When she turns to face her ragdoll, we become aware of how large the discarded pile of garments is.
BILBERRY: Hey, Iru, isn't this whole shop lame?
IRU: Such awful fashion sense.


CLERK: May I help you find something?
IRU: Hey... did you know?
CLERK: Pardon?

IRU (producing dark kiss marks [dark words?] as he speaks): I heard that eating KiraPâti sweets will ruin your fashion sense.

That's how the rumours have been spread... clever little eyeless ragdoll, right?

Despite being metaphors for dark words, these dark particles get inside the clerk not through her ears... but through her airways. So maybe it's like an emotional pathogen as well...

CLERK (in a state of trance): I heard that eating KiraPâti sweets will ruin your fashion sense...
(Notice the ominous aura and the Empty Eyes, the latter being a common symptom of mind control)

The clerk functions in turn as an intermediate host / vector for the rumour virus...
...spreading it further to more muggles on the streets.

As she leaves the shop...

...Bilberry laughs her usual perky laugh...

At the KiraPâti, no customers have arrived yet at all...

The days drag by and now it's over a week without a single customer...

It comes as no surprise that everyone's spirits are wavering.

However, as long as eggs are eggs and flour is white... there must be something to be done.

YUKARI: I guess that uneasiness has nowhere to hide.
AKIRA: Hey, let's just call it a day.

The sun sets over Ichigozaka as the girls return home...

AOI (elbows prodded on her temples): This has to be the toughest spot we at the KiraPâti have ever been in... Maybe we just have to give the shop a break for a while...

The two secondary-school girls are joined by the Zuka Cures from behind... Suddenly, their paths cross with the one of a teal-haired Elegant Gothic Lolita...


That night, on television, we are introduced to the new leading character of the cast...

PRESENTER: Today, on Sweets News, we meet a young and prodigious (wakaki tensai) Parisian pâtissière, Ciel Kirahoshi.
TEXT ON SCREEN: Smash hit! Pâtissière prodigy (tensai)!

PRESENTER: They say that she might be the best in the whole Paris conurbation at the tender age of thirteen.
TEXT ON SCREEN: Flourishing in Paris! Teenage Prodigy (Tensai) in Pâtisserie!

PRESENTER: With all that demand for Ciel-made sweets, there's always a queue outside her shop every day!

PRESENTER: And now she's decided to grace our country with her presence! Now Japan will get to try some of Ciel's sweets as well! Won't it be wonderful?

In her vast bedchamber in the Tategami Mansion, Aoi broods (perchance wondering "What would Miyuki of Ganache fame have done?")...

Yukari calmly thinks of what to do (as the strategist she is) while sipping her tea... maybe finding the source of the rumours, the golden head of this hydra? She's wondering which connections of hers to ask to get her research right.

On her balcony, Akira gazes listlessly into the night sky... wondering as well what to do; the burden of the older sister and princely young man on campus has increased with this crisis at the sweetshop, and Akira Kenjo knows better than to shrug all these burdens off...

And thus, pretty soon, the next day... we find her in the park handing out leaflets to passersby with all of her bifauxnen grace.
AKIRA (handing out leaflets): Excuse me! Excuse me!

AKIRA (handing out a leaflet): Please come to the Kirakira Pâtisserie!

In another corner of the park, a group of high-school girls with Yukari cockades dart towards Yukari like soldiers to their commanding officer.

YUKARI (commanding): Please carry on with your investigation, then.
YUKARI FANGIRLS: Yes, ma'am! Anything to help the KiraPâti!

Operation Hydra of Lerna, so far, has churned nothing up... but Lieutenant Kotozume is sure of the strategy she has devised.

In the meantime, Aoi is more than proud, even though a bit reeling, to put the strength of her arms at the service of the pâtisserie. Just look at that massive wad of kirakiraru!

AOI: I figured that I'd dust it off... the kirakiraru pot, I mean.
(By "dust it off", she means turning that heavy handle until she feels her arms sore!)

And Himari is making crêpes, and hopefully she will teach us the chemistry behind them too...

No, no chemistry lesson for today. But we get that this is millecrêpe, ie millefeuille with crêpes instead of puff pastry.
Long story short, everyone is doing their best to raise the bar and get those customers back...

Outside, Aoi surveys the oversized decorations (shaped like those transformation sweets) she has just finished.
AOI: Not a bad job, if I say so myself!!

Everyone, long story short, is giving their all in face of the crisis.

The cravens fall and never rise up,
while the righteous fall seven times and get up after all seven.
KiraPâti open!!

The leaders survey the new decorations.
YUKARI: That's nice, isn't it?
AKIRA: You don't think it's too much?

The millecrêpe plates have been cut into giraffe heads with a sprig of mint and all.

AOI (straddling and petting the new giraffe mascot): I'm not sure I got all of that, but it's about looking forward, right?

Indeed, she's got the point. So... right,
it's time for the Kirakira Pâtisserie's Grand Reopening!!

But of course at first it will not be that satisfactory... not even handing out free samples of millecrêpes in the park is enough...
THIRTYISH YOUNG WOMAN: I've heard odd things about them...

AKIRA (courteously handing ofer leaflets): If you please.
Even a mother with a curious child, who surely would like some KiraPâti treats, turns her off.

What's more, people even turn Yukari herself off. "Better for my detachment of little birdies to come back soon and report their findings..."

Pretty soon, a young boy comes along and is impressed by the mascot at the shop entrance.
LITTLE BOY: Wooow. That's a big giraffe... The KiraPâti? Will eating the sweets here make me tell jokes wrong?
(From the mouths of babies... the rumour is about to be dismantled before you can say "KiraPâti!")

LITTLE BOY (after finishing his millecrêpe): Oishii!! Who cares about rumours when this is so good?!

Everyone else in the park clearing watches on in awe...
Indeed; why care about those rumours?

CUSTOMER 1: Maybe with the KiraPâti there's nothing wrong, after all...
CUSTOMER 2: Kawaii!!

Long story short... success is once more right around the corner!

That's right... the first batch of customers since last week is finally here!

Yet Bilberry, watching them from behind a treetrunk, is clearly not amused.

BILBERRY: All this pleasantness is no fun at all...

Right then, she is suddenly startled by Yukari seizing her by the wrist!

YUKARI: Finally. There you are.

AKIRA (a bit clueless, still handing out leaflets): Yukari?

The oneesama drags the gothic lolita along, the latter throwing a tantrum to break free, but to no avail; Yukari remains steadfast and unfazed.

BILBERRY (kicking, writhing, screaming): What are you doing??!! Unhand me AT ONCE!!
(The end of it all is that Yukari gracefully shoves her onto the ground, the PFM landing flat on her petticoats)
AOI: Did she do something?

YUKARI (looking down at Bilberry sitting on the floor): She was the one spreading all those rumours.

YUKARI: I asked the girls in my fanclub to find out, didn't I?

Apparently, Yukari's little birdies gleaned a lot of information on the high street, including from housewives...

...and the clerk at that fashion shop.

Producing a picture of a teal-haired Elegant Gothic Lolita with an eyeless ragdoll in a red hat, Yukari looks down at the flesh-and-blood rumour spreader: the main head of the hydra has been found!

YUKARI (sternly): This girl is you, isn't she?

Bilberry is clearly not amused.
BILBERRY (brushing off the dust): Shut up! You think you're so hot...

BILBERRY (coldly): Because all that fun... just makes me wince. (Pause.)
Let's do something a little mo-o-ore fun!

Saying these words, our new cadre villainess raises her Iru skywards. The star on the ragdoll's top hat glows dark purple...

...and his muppet mouth opens to reveal a black hole...

...that drains the little boy's heart of kirakiraru...

...leaving him unconscious as usual.

BILBERRY (elated): Look at all of this... That kirakiraru grows in the hearts of humans... what a discovery!! I applaud you, Giulio!!

The mention of that name raises more than a pair of eyebrows among the Precures, as all the sweets and people in the area are sapped dry of kirakiraru, forming a halo around the perky girl and her ragdoll.

BILBERRY (elated): All of your kirakiraru... and I, Bilberry, shall take it all!!

BILBERRY: Are you... friends (nakama) of Giulio's? I suppose so...

BILBERRY: We, Giulio and I, are both servants of Master Noir.

The Cures stand back and shudder... who is this mysterious overlord... or overlady?

BILBERRY (spinning around with arms outstretched and Iru in her hands, until she stops with the ragdoll right in front): Kirakiraru! I stain you in darkness!

BILBERRY: Noir Filling!
As she says these words, Iru's hat star glows and darkens all the kirakiraru; then he opens wide once more and breathes in, or swallows, all the darkened kirakiraru...

...making Iru's belly swell until it's spherical...

...then turning him into a daikaiju Iru with a mille-crêpe torso.

As a black hole opens in the skies above...

...the kaiju terrorises all the muggles present.
MILLE-CRÊPE IRU (bellowing): NOIR!!

You know what it means; it's henshin time!

BILBERRY: Avatar of my love (ai)! Bring back this kirakiraru to Master Noir!
MILLE-CRÊPE IRU (bellowing, advancing towards the black hole): NOIR!!

The Precures, however, are standing right in the way, claiming that boy's kirakiraru back...

BILBERRY (deadpan): Try to stop me and you'll get done.

While the juniors try to stop Iru (and get wrapped into throwing-weapon crêpes),

...the Zuka Cures take on Bilberry. It's on the latter confrontation we will focus.

With the skill of an expert traceuse, our PFM dodges every single Macaron Julienne that is thrown at her...

...right as it's about to come her way, with lightning reflexes...

...before taking one last impressive backflip out of Macaron's range
and nailing the landing on the park fence!!

CURE MACARON: I do not care the least for your methods.
CURE CHOCOLAT: Why are you stealing kirakiraru? You, your Master Noir... what are you all up to?

In response, our Perky Female Minion does an akanbe, the taunting gesture that consists of pulling down one eyelid and sticking the tongue out.
BILBERRY: (Akanbe, tongue out sound)

In the meantime, the Zuka Cures wrap their companions out of those crêpe straitjackets...

(spinning like Tasmanian devils, aren't they?)

CURE GELATO: We won't lose to you!!

Also, in the meantime, the junior Cures had curbstomped Iru and pinned him to the ground...

No matter how much kirakiraru the villains steal, the Precures will defend it for as long as they breathe!
Time for Sweets Wonderful à la Mode, that Finishing Move, right?

Indeed it is...

And soon Iru is purified...
...and turned back into a regular-sized muppet ragdoll with a bandaged right leg.
(So... the injuries he received in action remain after he's purified?)

A desperate Bilberry picks up and cradles her injured Iru, as the kirakiraru returns to where it was wrested from...

...and the little customer comes to, in a daze as usual.

BILBERRY: Don't get too excited now; today was just to say hello.

BILBERRY (clutching her ragdoll in anger): Next time, you won't stop it... I won't let you stop it.
BILBERRY: No one will stop my love (ai) for Master Noir!! Tee-hee!
Exit Bilberry stage left, taking one great leap backwards then vanishing as if into thin air.

A new day in Ichigozaka, with everything back as it should be...

Suddenly, a fair-haired stranger stops in front of the hill and the bridge gate, as if the scenery reminded her of her own land back in Europe...

Taking off her sunglasses, the blonde reveals herself as...

...none other than CIEL KIRAHOSHI!!

The French teenage prodigy of confectionery herself!!

Seriously, all French people in anime are blond, blue-eyed, and fair-skinned to mark them out as Europeans in a primarily Asian cast (even though there be red-headed and purple-haired Asians in the same series!). The only exception being if the anime happens to be set majorly in France, like La Rose de Versailles/Lady Oscar or Sugarbunnies Chocolat to put a pair of examples... only in that case there are auburn and even raven-haired French people among the mostly French cast. Which is not the case here in KKPCàlM, as you can read from the characters' names and that of their home community. And yet, the French people queuing for Ciel's sweets look more like real-life dark-haired French people. So... is the golden hair, like the aqua orbs that are framed in it, proof of something otherworldly?
So we meet a Parisian pâtissière called Ciel Kirahoshi, which is literally Sky Shiningstars for you (to fit the colour of her eyes). The evil overlord/overlady of the series also has a French name: Madame Noire... or is it Monsieur Noir? (The honorific -sama being gender-neutral and the face of the archvillain unseen add even more fuel to the speculation fire!) Not bad for a series whose opening theme and title are sprinkled with extra French in the title!!
We lost our Giulio to the neutral side, but got ourselves a berry-licious Perky Female Minion (in Elegant Gothic Lolita attire for extra cuteness!!) instead; and gods, this is my favourite kind of cadre... a character type I adore as much as the Bifauxnen for obvious reasons!! So this summer arc serves up a blond foreigner and a Perky Female Minion; could it ever get more interesting, anyone? (Throb throb throb...) She reminds me of both an evil counterpart to Aoi and a human Cheshire Cat for good reasons... 
On Perky Female Minions (ex. Ty Lee among others):
"This character can range in psyche from Punch Clock Villain to fairly psychotic (Cute and Psycho/Psychopathic Womanchild), but have an upbeat, Energetic Girl personality.
However, despite her cheerfulness and energy, she is usually still good at what she does. When this is the case, her employer usually views her as a Bunny-Ears Lawyer.
She is possessed of an over-abundance of energy, such that she runs everywhere (often with arms waving wildly or outstretched like airplane wings), speaks quickly (sometimes unintelligibly so), and always does everything fast, fast, fast! She's filled with confidence and determination, regardless of whether she's competent or not. Although usually played exclusively for comedy, sometimes she slows down for a serious or introspective moment. But not for long—she lives her life full-throttle. 
Though her energy won't necessarily make her go crazy.
Whatever you do, don't give her too much coffee, cola, or sugar, and definitely teach her that hard drugs are very bad. This is why she may be preferred with somebody who is practical."

Her interactions with the team oneesama Yukari were priceless; I mean, the Perky Female Minion and the Oneesama/Proper Lady? Their roles being a given plus those extra quirks, an interesting chemical reaction is guaranteed...! A bit of Anna and Elsa in their (Yukari/Macaron vs. Bilberry) dynamic, isn't there? As foils to one another, maybe this Elegant Gothic Lolita on Jägermonster has more of an evil Yukari than of an evil Aoi in her. As seen in maniac laugh vs. noblewoman's laugh, as well. So she is established as Macaron's/Yukari's counterpart right off the bat, or is she? The Perky Female Minion who ironically thinks pleasantness is not fun; and the once weary Proper Lady who enjoys the good things in life... If I were Yukari Kotozume, I would definitely seize the chance to quote some Hamlet à propos:
"I’ll be your foil, Laertes. In mine ignorance
your skill shall, like a star i' th' darkest night,
stick fiery off indeed."
As for Bilberry's MO and the way it involves that sinister eyeless ragdoll I had previously introduced, in case you had forgotten, it goes like this, after she's come to Earth in her little TARDIS: 
1) Use your ragdoll Iru to drain and darken kirakiraru en masse from all the people in sight.
2) Iru will consume it and swell impressively (Noir Filling), then turn into a huge monster form/daikaiju based upon the snack the people have consumed.
3) Have your One-Winged Ragdoll spit out a wormhole to your bleaker homeworld and transfer all that kirakiraru across dimensions.
Unfortunately, the Precures are always in the way, foiling this scheme over and over during the course of this summer. It appears that she'll use a different strategy each and every time; today, she's gone for the Rumour Weed (named after the eponymous episode of VeggieTales) strategy.

And Yukari's position as the Varys of Ichigozaka could never have been more successful than right then for finding the source of the rumour. Also, I think letting the Zuka Cures fight her is also interesting because Chocolat/Akira represents ai love (selflessness, unconditional love), the only motivation that our PFM has given us so far... this ai love is no romantic attraction (koi) like the one between Yukari and Akira; but something deeper, like concern and willingness to do anything for the loved person (her sister in Akira's case, her master in Bilberry's).
Macaron and Chocolat go after Bilberry. Chocolat tries asking what Bilberry and Noir want to achieve by stealing kirakiraru, but Bilberry is not very forthcoming with that information.
Iru almost escapes. From there, the battle is resolved in the usual way.
Bilberry retreats, claiming that nobody will stop her love for Noir(e?).
I particularly enjoyed the way Yukari caught Bilberry in this episode with the help of her fanclub – or rather, network of spies in this case. She wasn’t exactly gentle with her either.

Also, given that the Monde Noir (I'll go along with calling the villains' homeworld by that name) is pretty dark, and bleak, and bereft of life... the villains seem to have a good reason to pilfer kirakiraru in spite of the collateral damage they cause upon Earth... This winter, the finale will hopefully be about finding a peaceful and fair solution to the conflict of interest. Maybe the moral of this story, like that of Othello, is that Poor Communication Kills. Not for the first time; other anime I have watched, like Wonderbeat Scramble, rely on the same premise that the conflict could have been solved far more easily.
PS. We saw even more of Ichigozaka High in this episode. It looked as palace-like as the high schools where Sailor Uranus and Neptune expies commonly studied, wasn't it beautiful? And the Akiraphone was something refreshing; as in: "What? The bifauxnen de facto team leader using a cup telephone?!" Hope this becomes not only an episodic event, but even canonised!
As for the HMS Yukakira, that Cinderella/Yukarella worst-case scenario imagine spot has really raised the bar; with our OTP in a fairytale scene in period costume / Akira in trousers!) and all that it entails,  plus Akira calling Yukari her "koibito"!! Here the mercury and the blood pressure are rising!! As in...
1) This looks like a real-life Takarazuka Cinderella production!!
2) It's so dramatic!!
3) It would make a fine AU material; what with giving Yukari... let's say Bilberry for a stepsister and Shut for a stepbrother? And Ranko as another stepsister, by the way? And Kirara reprising the role of FGM she did in the School Play episode of GPPC? That would surely be a bibbidy-bobbidy-beautiful story, right?!


"Bonjour, Ichigozaka!" Make way for the pâtissière
that surely steals the spotlight with her own sweetshop right there!!...

Our Perky Female Minion's scheme is foiled for time the second;
as the Zuka Cures adore this blonde girl's cooking, so it's reckoned...

The word rendered as "prodigy" by the fansubs is tensai (天才), often used in anime to describe an Ace character.
We know that she's in the same age group as the secondary-school Cures (again, because the latter were intended as audience surrogates)... let's see if she's good at more things than just pastry-making and speaking French, shall we? (Is she an all-round Ace as an artistic academic athlete?) Let's see if Ciel is, and if she will fill the slot of Aloof Ally that I intended. So far, two episodes to introduce Ciel; this one and the next... let's see how the rest of the summer cour unfurls!
Also... she appears to have pretty good chemistry with her seniors the Zuka Cures... I can't wait to see their interactions, and you??? (Blood pressure rising exponentially)

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