I’ve said it before and I’ll keep right on saying it: one of Delicious Party Precure‘s greatest strengths is how it respects its characters and its audience. It would have been so easy to speed things up exponentially with Amane’s transition from bad guy to fourth Cure, but as with the gathering of the initial team of three, the story is allowing for her to be more than just the next superheroine – she gets to be a person first, and one who’s very, very conflicted about what happened to her. Amane clearly knows that she did a lot of damage when she was under Narcistoru’s control, and a piece of her just doesn’t believe that she deserves to be one of the official good guys, and that she definitely doesn’t have the right to be friends with the parfait recipipi when she did so much harm to the little food fairies. It doesn’t matter to her that Yui, Kokone, and Ran all want her to join them any more than it makes a difference that the parfait spirit believes in her: Amane is so weighed down by guilt that she can’t climb out from under it.
While I don’t want her to be unhappy, I do like this as a plot point. Amane went through a lot of trauma that she’s now having to come to terms with, and of course she’s going to have issues stemming from her experiences. As we saw with Kokone and Ran, she’s got a right to her own emotions, and it’s especially good to see her allowed to deal with those feelings on her own terms in a show with an intended audience of children. It’s not always easy to just flip a switch and change sides or to put what happened to you in the past behind you, and Amane needs to decide on her own that she wants to be a Pretty Cure for reasons that make sense to her. And her situation is different from the other girls’ – she’s not lonely like Kokone, carrying out her grandmother’s wishes like Yui, or looking to more honestly express her emotions like Ran. Amane is trying to find her place in the world after she was forced out of her regular existence, and that’s not something anyone else can find or decide for her.
Mari appears to understand this better than anyone else, and I daresay that Takumi might as well, given that he really struggled with the choice to become Black Pepper. (He still seems a little conflicted, but that could easily be embarrassment.) That’s another really nice element of this episode: Mari simply lays out the facts for Amane but doesn’t push her either way. The girls are visibly shocked when Amane thrusts the crystal back at Mari and runs off, but he doesn’t look all that surprised. It could just be due to the fact that he’s the adult of the group, but I think Mari’s a lot more emotionally intelligent than we get to see most of the time, and he may have anticipated that Amane wouldn’t jump at the chance to become the next Cure. Whether the CooQueen and CooKing will share his decision to let Amane choose for herself – or whether he’ll even bother to tell them – remains to be seen.
Even if the preview didn’t let us know what Amane’s eventual choice will be, we can see that the team is coalescing very nicely. Black Pepper really became part of it this time, and watching him and Cure Precious save each other is just heartwarming, while also shifting him from a Tuxedo Mask-style magical boy to one who’s actually part of the team. And Narcistoru was really too busy being kind of weirded out by how poorly his combination Motto Ubau-zo turned out to do much about it – as fits his name, that boy is very concerned about appearances, although in this case he perhaps also ought to have been worried about monster functionality. He does appear to learn from his mistakes, though, so complacency probably isn’t a good plan.
And now as we wait for Cure Finale (presumably so named because dessert is the grand finale of a meal) to join us, let me just wonder about how parfaits as a food are viewed by the Pretty Cure franchise. Is it an inherently bossy, snooty food? Because I’m getting a very similar vibe from the parfait recipipi as I did from Kira Kira Pretty Cure a la Mode‘s Cure Parfait…which means that the little fairy will probably be a terrific ally, even if it is, at times, a little hard to take.