So, I’m giving the Netflix-exclusive Glitter Force a try with my daughter (she’s 4), and it’s…delightfully fucking weird, and extremely adorable. It feels like a mashup of Sailor Moon and Totally Spies, with a sprinkling of My Little Pony.
Aesthetic: The character designs are hella cute and obviously derivative of Sailor Moon and other magical girl anime. It’s got a lot elements that are pretty standard for the genre, with the borderline-chibi art style and super bright, vibrant colors. That said, I adore the over-the-top mega girly frilly cutesy post-transformation costumes. They’re so fucking extreme in their cuteness with the socks and the skirts and the hair and the color themes and the everything I wanna fill my wardrobe with that shit. So, very, like, rainbow-y and femme in a way that is visually appealing and likable. I love the colorful, playful feel of it all.
Plot: It’s pretty stock, honestly. A group of gap pals with distinct archetypal personalities must ban together to save the day – from fairy tale antagonists, in this case. Fairy tales are a definite theme in the series, so if you’re into that sort of thing, you’ll probably dig it. In the process of saving the day, the protagonists learn about friendship and get into kid-friendly shenanigans; like I said, I can comfortably watch it with my 4-year old, so don’t expect much in the way of mature themes. Still, it’s a lot more palatable than some of the other shit designed for her age group (like Caillou. I fucking hate that little bald bastard). It’s nothing that hasn’t been done before, but it is well done and fun to watch. Good execution makes up for where it somewhat lacks in originality.
Characters: The characters are pretty well done, especially considering the target demographic and genre. The five that makeup the Glitter Force do all kind of fall into the common roles of the tomboy, the girly girl, etc., but we see enough of their individual interests and personalities so that they don’t fall victim to becoming boring cardboard cutouts that we don’t give a fuck about.
In addition, the villains are more or less of the goofy brand of bad guys, and they’re lovable in their own evil way. That said, I personally find the buffoons to be fucking horrifying. My daughter thinks they’re hilarious but they scare the shit out of me. The buffoons are the most common enemies fought throughout the series; they are monstrous creatures with sinister, clown-like features that take on the forms of various inanimate objects. Sounds harmless enough, right? Maybe even stupid, but like, look at this shit:
The terrifying hideousness of the buffoons is only made more apparent when contrasted with the unsettling beauty of the villain Ulric:
Tone: Glitter Force is hardcore super fucking whacky, and it’s super self-aware of its own absurdity, which is something I can always appreciate in a series. The villains are wonderfully bizarre, the dialog is lighthearted and playful (combat one-liners being particularly ridiculous). There are some more serious moments, but they are short-lived and it’s all back to ultra kawaii fun and games.
Cosplayability: Because of the over-the-top and colorful character designs, this series is ripe for the picking in terms of cosplay possibilities. Seriously. And since I know the comparisons are being made anyway, Glitter Force uniforms honestly kick the living fuck out of Sailor Scout uniforms. There, I fucking said it. Fight me. Can we stop pretending that “iconic” means “superior”?
Juicy Tidbits and Final Thoughts: The title Glitter Force is the English/Americanized version of the original Japanese title, Smile Pretty Cure! Apparently, some fans who were familiar with the series back when it debuted in Japan under its original title are none too happy about the name change, going so far as to claim that Glitter Force is a rip off. I mean, its not a ripoff if it’s the same series, so that’s pretty fucking dumb. I have read that there are some differences between the Japanese and American versions of the show, but it’s mostly expected shit like line and name changes. It’s basically just a glorified dub, from what I gather. I can understand some outrage at what appears to be a bit of bastardization going on with a series you like, but judging by said changes, it’s ultimately the same series. There’s a list of the key differences, for anyone interested.
Anyway, hit up Netflix and watch the fucking show with your kids or your friends or alone in your room, cradling a bowl of cheap ramen and pretending like you don’t have other obligations. My daughter is already hooked, and I’m digging it too. If you’re about that magical girl life, you’ll likely be in the same boat once you give Glitter Force a shot.