KiraKira ☆ PreCure a la Mode is the fourteenth instalment of Izumi Todo’s Pretty Cure franchise. The show started airing on February 5th, 2017, succeeding Maho Girls PreCure! in its initial timeslot. KiraKira ☆ PreCure a la Mode ran for forty-nine episodes.
This season of PreCure had two directors: Kohei Kureta and Yukio Kaizawa. As is always the case with PreCure, the studio that produced the show was Toei Animation.
KiraKira ☆ PreCure a la Mode is similar to Smile PreCure in that both of those seasons focus on a team of five Cures. As such, the first few episodes are spent introducing each of the main characters.In the role of lead Cure is Ichika Usami, who transforms into Cure Whip and has a rabbit theme. She pretty much fills the role of lead character of a magical girl series. Perhaps it’s just me, but Ichika doesn’t really possess any qualities that make her stand out from other lead Cures.
She’s not a terrible character, but she is a character that has been done several times before. Her most notable quality may be the various reaction faces she has – Ichika has quite the range of amusing expressions.When you get a fairly sizeable cast of characters, there tends to be a shy one. In KiraKira ☆ PreCure a la Mode, that is Himari Arisugawa, who transforms into Cure Custard and has a squirrel theme. Due to her quiet nature, it often feels like Himari is just pushed to the background when the whole group is involved.
However, Himari’s development through the episodes that focus solely on her is definitely one the stronger points of KiraKira ☆ PreCure a la Mode.Aoi Tategami plays guitar in the band Wild Azur, as well as being able to transform into Cure Gelato who has a lion theme. Naturally, episodes that focus on Aoi tend to focus on her music as well, which makes for some rather enjoyable insert songs.
I’m quite a fan of rock music, so I particularly enjoy Aoi’s episodes. However, she isn’t my favourite Cure from this season.Taking the title of my favourite Cure from KiraKira ☆ PreCure a la Mode is Yukari Kotozume, who transforms into Cure Macaron.
Yukari has a cat theme, and a personality to match that. She gives off the air of being perfect, but the episodes that focus on her explore that and reveal that there is more to her.
There is also another reason she happens to be my favourite character, but I’ll get to that in a little while.The fifth member of the team is Akira Kenjou, AKA Cure Chocolat. She has a dog theme. When Akira is first introduced, Ichika believes she is a boy and develops a crush on her. That crush doesn’t really seem to go away after Ichika discovers she is female.
Akira is devoted to her younger sister, who spends most of the season in hospital. Pretty much everything Akira does is for the sake of her sister.
As is true to PreCure tradition, the cast does expand beyond the initial five characters. Without wanting to give away too much, I’ll just say that the female additions to the cast utterly outshine the male one – well, at least for the good guys.
Before I get to the villains, though, you can’t have a PreCure series without mascots.Pekorin is the fairy mascot character for KiraKira ☆ PreCure a la Mode. She is a pretty standard PreCure fairy. She does get a few episodes devoted to her, though I wouldn’t say that they are really anything spectacular. She serves her purpose, I guess.
One thing that slightly disappointed me about KiraKira ☆ PreCure a la Mode was that the monsters they fought on a weekly basis didn’t have a specific name. It’s a relatively minor thing, and I suppose there is a reason.
Initially, Cure Whip and the others find themselves battling evil fairies. Actual named villains crop up eventually, and they’re a mixed bag at best.
The best villain in the season shows up later on in the plot. He forces the Cures to confront their insecurities, and as such this tends to lead to personal growth. In fact, you could say he is the catalyst for some of the better episodes that KiraKira ☆ PreCure a la Mode has to offer.
As a whole, there are a couple of things that PreCure is well known for. They are the fight scenes, and the yuri subtext. KiraKira ☆ PreCure a la Mode delivers on one, and disappoints on the other.
It is the fight scenes where KiraKira ☆ PreCure a la Mode disappoints. The hard-hitting physical combat is nowhere to be seen, and instead the Cures pretty much throw cream at their foes to defeat them, as befitting the whole patisserie theme.
Yet somehow, KiraKira ☆ PreCure a la Mode still manages to pull off an actually decent final battle…
But if you were to tell someone about PreCure‘s hard-hitting fight scenes, they would be disappointed if they started by watching KiraKira ☆ PreCure a la Mode.
Now for what I consider the best thing to come out of KiraKira ☆ PreCure a la Mode: the yuri. It almost certainly goes beyond text at times, and the most prominent couple are Yukari (Cure Macaron) and Akira (Cure Chocolat), as you can see above.
They already bear a resemblance to a certain other magical girl duo from another Toei-animated show, and their interactions with each other are brilliant to behold.
I’d say this peaks in the 25th episode, which is my favourite of this season. Akira finds herself competing for Yukari’s affection, and they get several very close moments.
There are a few more AkiYuka moments scattered throughout after that, but nothing ever quite matches episode 25.
Another strong episode is 35, which is pretty much all about Himari and Aoi bonding, despite their differences. Whilst not quite as prevalent as AkiYuka, AoiHima is certainly a very worthy pairing just from that episode alone.
A couple of characters from the extended cast also make for a good pair, but I won’t go into that as spoilers are involved.
I’m surprised I’ve got this far through the review without even mentioning sweets, particularly as they are a key theme of KiraKira ☆ PreCure a la Mode. Beside the typical monster of the week formula, you also tend to get ‘sweets of the week’ as well.
As far as I can tell, there has been a lot of care put into showing the girls preparing their sweets. One of Himari’s catchphrases is ‘sweets are science’, after all.
Not everything the girls make come out successful, but they never really give up on it. The core cast motivate each other to do well, and cover for each others’ weaknesses.
Continue watching an episode after the end credits, and sometimes you’ll get a video that shows you how to make whatever sweets of the week were important for that episode.
I should probably also mention that making sweets creates ‘kira-kiraru’, which the bad guys want to steal. Of course, the Cures fight to protect their sweets.
KiraKira ☆ PreCure a la Mode has a fair number of insert songs, and as such the soundtrack is pretty good. Of course, I most enjoy the songs that play during episodes that focus on Aoi.
The opening theme is catchy, as too are both ending themes. The second ending deserves a special mention as well, as one line in particular is really fitting when you think about what PreCure tends to be known for.
KiraKira ☆ PreCure a la Mode is rather hit and miss. The best episodes it has to offer are quite simply amazing, but that tends to be balanced out with less then stellar episodes as well.
Character-focused episodes are where KiraKira ☆ PreCure a la Mode shines, though not every one of them is a winner.
Still, I’ll remember KiraKira ☆ PreCure a la Mode for its highs rather than its lows. As far as I am concerned, it is also the best entry in the franchise with a five-girl team (Smile and Yes! PreCure 5 being the other two).
I’ll be posting my updated ranking of all the PreCure seasons some time soon, but I can tell you that this season hasn’t really had much of an effect on the top spots.
Whilst it does have weak points, KiraKira ☆ PreCure a la Mode‘s high points just manage to outshine them. The lack of physical combat is a let-down, but the relationships between certain characters are an utter joy to behold.