Well, I guess it’s over, huh.
I have a lot to say about this show, and I won’t inflict all of it on anybody just browsing the frontpage, so let’s keep this brief. I’ve enjoyed the process of subbing Smile, and that’s in no small part thanks to the guys at Anxious-Helium. I was seriously about to drop this show when the offer of the joint came about, and while you could argue that the fact I ended up subbing Smile was a detriment, those guys made it fun enough to be worthwhile. You can read what all those guys have to say over on their blog, cause I’m not gonna duplicate it over here because… well, this post’s gonna be long enough as it is.
Also, as you may have guessed, we’re not going to be doing Dokidoki. That said, a good part of the team has hopped on over to help CureCom with their sub, which I can totally assure you isn’t why they’re releasing as slow as we did. Honest, guv.
Anyway, guess this is a good point to put the break. Read the rest after the jump, if you’re so inclined.
So, Smile’s over. “Good riddance” are the first words that come to mind. I wish, really wish, they didn’t though. Smile had potential, so much potential, but it ended up being distinctly average. And distinctly average is something one has to get used to when one’s dealing with Toei’s Sunday morning output, but this is – IMO – the first time it’s really hit Precure in the same way. I’m gonna be making a lot of comparisons to tokusatsu here so, uh, be warned!
You often get shows that are bad, but have interesting ideas that make them watchable – like, say, Kamen Rider Decade, or Juuken Sentai Gekiranger. And I think the shows that are considered a bit ‘average’, say, in Precure – like 5GoGo or Suite, kinda fall under that blanket. They have flaws, they tell their narrative a bit silly-ish, but there’s interesting cast or storytelling methods or SOMETHING that can hold your attention throughout.
What Smile manages to be is a… Kiva, or a Go-Onger. A show that’s just plain bad, and makes you wonder who thought it’d be a good idea. Shoji Yonemura is not a talented writer by any stretch of the imagination, and putting him in charge of a 50-episode series again after fucking Kamen Rider Kabuto was quite frankly the dumbest idea imaginable. But, you know, for all that… you can see potential here! The cast on paper isn’t bad by any means, the setting offers a lot of depth and ideas for doing unique one-shot episodes, the villain concepts are clever, and when the show really, really tries to have a good scene, it often succeeds.
But 99% of the time, it’s spinning its wheels. The plot is literally comprised of waiting for something to happen, the characters have no development that sticks (except, ironically, in this episode.) and all the cool nuances of the setting are invariably ignored and tossed aside. Episodes like 39 prove that the show has a format that can really work for telling clever, thematically relevant individual stories. Episodes like 33 and 35 prove the show can do something outside of that that’s really interesting despite not using the tools the show has to offer. Episodes like 18 and 19 show the show can hit home on an emotional level. And episodes like 43 and 47 prove that, when the show wants, it can actually have those fight things it does every week actually be interesting.
But it hardly ever does. Instead what we end up is this disconnect, the occasional good idea buried in this amorphous mess of generic episodes that… sure, waste 25 minutes of your life well enough, but if you’re gonna waste 25 minutes of your life, can one not ask to get at least something out of it? The moral messages in Smile are so forced, the characters so cardboard, the action so dull as to render the entire thing an exercise in tedium.
See, the thing they said with Smile was that they wanted to make a “simple and easily accessible” series. Generally when Toei says something like that, it’s because the previous show did something wrong that they feel the need to correct. Was Suite that complex, though? I admit the whole Major Land royalty dynamic might be a bit off-putting to a newcomer that comes in around ep 35 or whatever, but what Smile seems to think is that having characters that never grow and change is how you do simple. When in reality, is it not infinitely more fulfilling to have characters that grow and change, but if you’re just coming into the show fresh part-way in, you don’t need to know necessarily how they got there, or how they were at the start?
In the end, I find it ironic that the only character whose character got to experience growth that stuck over the course of the series was Candy. The main five remained completely unchanged by everything that happened to them, both as individuals and in their cohesion as a team (which was basically completely without any tension from the start), whilst its Candy who, in this episode, gets to point out to the team that they have to remember the lessons they learnt in order to slap some sense into them and get them to, you know, actually save the world instead of worry about her. It’s actually quite a good scene. The problem is that it feels really stupid and weak because of its context, and just because… well, you can’t just give a ~tough decision~ to characters who’ve never had to make tough choices before now, who have had no character growth, and expect it to be fulfilling.
Oh, and by the way? Doing a “sometimes you have to make tough choices” finale and then completely undermining that decision in the epilogue? Kinda bullshit, just saying.
So that was Smile. Kinda bullshit. Sometimes fun, but because of the lack of cohesion in the show, it could never feel any better to me than its last episode was, and the general shoddiness of it often made it feel a lot worse.
Anyway, now that’s over, I need to thank people! So lemme get on that.
First of all, Alkaid, our editor, and basically the only other surviving member of the original Aesir lineup at this point. :V She’s a cool person who stepped in to cover when we had to kick out our original editor for reasons of “weeaboo retard”, and has done the job admirably and promptly. In addition she’s probably the kindest person you’re ever likely to find on the internet, so give her lots of hugs!
To Frumix: our encoder-chan at Aesir, and all around tsundere. Doing Smile was originally his idea, which makes this entire thing his fault, really. He actually managed to drop this show no less than 5 times, in various roles in various groups, which takes major effort and dedication. That said, when we needed him, he was always willing to come back and lend a hand again, and he’s always helping out encoding for the various tokusatsu projects going on around the internet. So thanks to him, this might be all your fault, but the good bits I got to experience through the process of subbing the show are also all thanks to you. So, yeah, thanks, dude. You’re cool.
tootbrush: my original QC dude back when this was just an understaffed Aesir project, and one of the poor idiots who actually a) watched this show, and b) watched our subs. He was relieved of his torture once the joint happened, but again this really just falls under the “a cool guy who lives in our channel and I enjoy talking to and want to thank.” Get owned, procedure!
Nemui: Anxious-Helium’s translator, who became the translation checker on the project after the joint. When the idea of the joint first came up, it was a weird idea to me, just cause I’m so used to kind of working with a skeleton crew of good friends and kind of just about scraping by like that, with a bit of help from the generosity of others. You not only welcomed me into your incredibly talented and capable group of people, but were remarkably welcoming and tolerant of me and my admittedly very localization-happy translation style essentially replacing you in that process. That said, having a TLC as capable and willing to tell me when I’m being dumb as you are was an absolute pleasure, and no doubt our subs owe as much to what you polished up as to what I wrote in the first place. Thank you so much.
Skylarhawk: Anxious-Helium’s boss, and the one who kept the project running. You were always there helping out with timing and QC, and you absolutely kept the project running, because fuck knows we couldn’t have kept ourselves in order without you. There was one time we had a perfectly done release ready to put out but without you there to get us off our lazy asses, it just kinda sat there for a week. We’re capable people, honestly, but only with someone to keep us in check. You’re always a very amicable, friendly person to talk to, and I hope one day I’ll get a chance to be part of your fold again.
peeaivo: Anxious-Helium’s typesetter in chief. Your flirtatious, jovial nature was one of the things that made me feel very welcome when we first started working together on this show, and I-I guess your typesetting isn’t too bad either, baka! But no, really, you’re a great guy, and almost as great when drunk! Almost. <3
BillyG: A-H’s timer/QC/whatever skylarhawk doesn’t wanna do that week guy. You’re a cool, level-headed guy who probably had the most thankless task of anyone in the group, basically being made to run around for all of us cleaning up our loose ends, and for some reason you decided to do it all again on Dokidoki! People always act like translating is the hard task, but if anything, it’s the fun task. It’s the people doing all the technical stuff that makes it happen who deserve the real thanks, because it’s monotonous and yet you’re willing to put all that time and effort in for a part of the final product that is absolutely necessary, but so so taken for granted. Thank you!
Bell-chan/SoupRKnowva: We never really got to talk that much during Smile, but you guys were fun and great at what you did. Soup was remarkably tolerant of all the disruptions and stuff to his encoding processes, and Bell did a great job filling in as typesetter when peeaivo wasn’t around. Cheers, you two!
To all the haters on /a/ and /foolz/: Knowing that doing what I do, and enjoy doing, manages to annoy so many people with absolutely no real effort on my part has been one of the most hilarious things about this entire process. Your hyperbole and indignancy provide me with endless amusement, and the best part is I’ve never once had to actually bother to go and stir some up, which makes you a much better source of mirth than /m/ is with my usual projects. But no, thanks, really. <3 You guys were amusing when the show failed to be.
To everyone who referred to a fansub groups’ release of an episode as that group’s “take” on LiveJournal: Knowing the public face of our fanbase is full of such tryhard sycophants, on the other hand, never ceased to annoy me. Thanks for making this show even more insufferable.
And I think that’s about it. I hope you’ve all enjoyed the show – I certainly haven’t – and I’m gonna be taking a little bit of a break from translating weeklies for a bit. Hopefully this’ll mean more time to spend on my backlog, but I fear it’ll mean more time spent on video games. C’est la vie.