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GENRE: Anime ORIGINAL AIR DATES: February 3, 2013 - January 26, 2014
// review by FlagrantWeeaboo

Glitter Force: Doki Doki Panic.

After the surprise localization of Smile Precure (in the form of Glitter Force), I wasn't too shocked to find out that Doki Doki Precure would receive the same treatment. Many of the complaints I had regarding the original Glitter Force adaptation have been addressed — and some have not. In short, definitely an improvement.

Much how the last series focused around a lead girl with pink hair, this series begins with an introduction to Maya, the main character and student body president — who has purple hair. Close enough to be considered lazy, I think. She's always helping others and does everything with a great big smile. On a school trip to Clover Tower, Maya diffuses situation after situation with ease — students from different schools getting into fights, a student feeling travel sick, etc. On her way to the tower elevator, she notices a young man operating a knick-knack stall, and he gives her a "Glitter Charm" free of charge. Soon after, a giant crab monster appears out of nowhere and terrorizes people, as giant crab monsters are want to do. Maya decides she's having none of it and attempts to take the monster head on. At this time, she's greeted by a pixie named Kippie, who informs her that the charm she received from the strange man can be used to transform into a Glitter Force warrior. Rather than getting freaked out by a talking pixie and a giant monster crab, Maya instead transforms into a superhero and saves the day.

Not long after, she enlists the help of her other friends, Rachel, Clara and Mackenzie, and together they fight the minions of the evil King Mercenare, while searching for the princess of Splendorious. If you look back to my review of Glitter Force, you'll find the premise to be pretty similar. Just replace Emperor Nogo with King Mercenare and Buffoons for Distains. Despite similarities, it's great to once again see Glitter Force, returning with its over the top premise and ridiculous transformation sequences.

It's too bad this series suffers from having a less interesting set of villains than before. I think back to Smile's villains and remember a cast of foes who were genuinely intimidating. About the only threatening villain here (with any form of depth) is King Mercenare, who spends most of his time trapped inside stone and unable to actually do anything. Bel, the right hand of King Mercenare, would be a terrifying villain if he had a few more moments to show off just how evil he can be, instead of being a punchline so often. As for my darling Regina, you can't really consider her a villain by the time it's all over. A shame that, as Regina is quite possibly the most interesting character in the show. She has to pick between her daddy (King Mercenare) and her friends (Glitter Force), leading to the same moral quandary I often find myself in, where I want to be friends with everyone but I can't. The show deals with a lot of themes like that, kinda like Romeo and Juliet, just with more anime schoolgirl lesbians and less "forsooth thine maiden" linguistic verbosity.

Okay, maybe I'm looking a bit too hard into this but when Maya and Regina are having a sleepover and they're holding hands... what am I meant to take from that? They're literally sleeping together, it doesn't get any more plain than that.

The voice talent has improved. One problem I had with the original Glitter Force was that I found half of the cast to sound pretty flat and disinterested. This time, every character is really hamming it up and enjoying themselves. Stand out voices are Regina, Bel, and Mackenzie, but all of the voice work this time is above average across the board. The most annoying voice award goes to any one of the pixies besides Davi; they can fight amongst themselves for that title.

The series is split into two seasons, both released on Netflix around a month apart. Season 1 focuses mostly on Mackenzie, her past, the search for the lost princess, and the troublemaker Regina. Season 2 focuses on new Glitter Force member Natalie, the powering up of the Glitter Force, and the final showdown with King Mercenare. I'm covering both together because I don't feel I could write enough about any one season on its own.

It's a magical girl anime, you know what to expect by now. The power of teamwork and friendship can overcome any evil in the universe. Whether it be someone who wants to destroy a postbox because they never get any love letters, or they want to skip the queue rather than wait patiently in line. So long as evil doers exist, the Glitter Force is here to save the day. The formula is shaken up a little with the introduction of Glitter Ace in Season 2, and how she connects with the team. It saves the show from being an entire retread of the original Glitter Force. It made the show compulsive viewing, and I burned through the second season at a reasonably fast pace.

Looking back on it, about the only thing they didn't change was the ugly pink episode title text or the 3D outros. So as far as nitpicks from the first series goes, they addressed all but two of them. Hey, that's pretty good. Bishoujo anime isn't going to appeal to everyone, but I feel those who like this kind of show will definitely enjoy Glitter Force Doki Doki. It's a solid improvement over Netflix's previous adaptation of Smile PreCure and doesn't treat its audience like a bunch of idiots. It doesn't try to lie to viewers by saying "we're in America" or "so-and-so cooks Japanese food because they have Japanese grandparents" like the original adaptation so insultingly plumped for.

Doki Doki is a superior beast in every way as far as quality goes, and while the enemies are less appealing, the show makes up for it by being better in almost every other way.

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