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Never in my time watching anime would I have thought Dragon Ball, of all franchises, would borrow ideas from a magical girl series like Pretty Cure (Or Glitter Force as it’s officially called outside of Japan). But, here I am loving every last moment of it.
As the Tournament of Power rolls on in Dragon Ball Super, the two magical girl fighters from Universe 2 make their move on an exhausted Goku. But, they are met by the twins androids Android 17 & 18. The four fighters clash in an all out battle that’s more reminiscent of magical girl anime than Dragon Ball. And when the dust settles, only two remain standing on the battleground.
Of all the things we’ve seen in Tournament of Power, paying homage to the magical girl genre wouldn’t make you blink an eye. We’ve already seen the three magical girls from Universe 2 in action, from their transformation to actually fighting. But, the latest episode of the series take it’s tribute to the genre and dials it up to a new level by specifically focusing on—of all things—the Pretty Cure movies.
There are actually two very big things Dragon Ball Super pays homage to from the Pretty Cure movies. The first is the penlight waving. In the Pretty Cure movies, during the climatic battle, one of the characters will ask the audience to wave a special pen light and cheer on the girls. The result is the Pretty Cure girls are basked in light and given the power to continue fighting. It’s a very beautiful scene in a movie theater because you’ll see every 3-7 year-old girl waving these lights cheering on the Pretty Cure. In Dragon Ball Super, though, we see this on a smaller scale with the Universe 2 fighter Brianne “Ribrianne” de Chateau.
After Ribrianne transformation is broken, the disqualified fighters and gods of Universe 2 whip out penlights and start cheering her on. But, it’s no ordinary cheering as they are specifically sending Ribrianne their love energy. What makes the scene so fun to watch, though, is unlike real life, we get to see the cheering actually affect Ribrianne. The characters in Dragon Ball Super really do power her up. It’s a nice play on something the Pretty Cure movies do to engage the audience and actually fits well in the Dragon Ball franchise.
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The second thing Dragon Ball Super is paying homage from the Pretty Cure movies is the finale between Android 18 and Ribrianne. Again, during the climax of a Pretty Cure movie, the enemy will blow up to gigantic proportions and do a short monologue before the girls generally fly or run up the arm to deliver the finishing blow. Of course, in Dragon Ball Super’s case Ribrianne is the villain and Android 18 is the heroin. Yet, even with this role reversal, we get the same flow in the narrative. After ensnaring Android 18 in a trap, Ribrianne grows to a massive size and monologues about how she’s a warrior of love and her love will vanquish evil. But, as a good tribute to the Pretty Cure movies, Android 18 is able to break free from the trap, block a punch, fly up Ribrianne’s arm, and—with a little teamwork from her brother—is able to defeat Ribrianne.
Image source: 「ドラゴンボール超」公式 on Twitter
While the two major homage’s to the Pretty Cure movie in the latest episode of Dragon Ball Super come at the end of the battle between Android 18 and Ribrianne, there are smaller similarities as well. For instance, how Ribrianne and her magical girl companions are clearly inspired by the Pretty Cure/Sailor Moon franchises. This includes her over-the-top transformation to the wild attacks Ribrianne wields. Granted, Ribrianne is a little more self-centered that the Pretty Cure girls. But, it’s the idea of fighting for love that makes her resemble a Pretty Cure in spirit.
Then there are the jokes delivered through the action. One in particular joke is the traditional head-butt gone awry. With Ribrianne, she flies into Android 18 headfirst and winds up lodged in a boulder. It may not seem like much at first, but the Pretty Cure movies have a habit of one the girls hitting an enemy really hard with her head, but doing more damage to herself. It’s all stupid fun in the Pretty Cure movies and seeing them in Dragon Ball Super is what makes each individual scene in so engaging.
Beat for beat, Android 18 defeating Ribrianne is so similar to a Pretty Cure movies climax you can’t help but be transported into that frame of mind. You become that 3-7 year-old girl cheering on the heroine. But, in this case our heroine isn’t the magical girl Ribrianne. It’s her opponent Android 18.