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In graduate school I took a course called “The Space of Absent Characters.” It discussed something that I had never really thought about before, and that is the very real space taken up by a character who we never meet in the main body of the story. Anime is full of such examples; up until recently, Toru’s mother in Fruits Basket would have been the classic example. In Delicious Party Pretty Cure, Yui’s grandmother has admirably filled the role, and in Episode 38, we finally really meet the woman who had such an influence on Cure Precious. What’s particularly interesting here is that she seems to be filling the role normally known as the Legendary Pretty Cure. In most Precure series, this is a character who fought the fight years before our current team took up the baton, and it feels like that standby of the franchise is being used rather differently here. Yone may not have transformed to fight against the Bundoru gang (at least as far as we know), but her influence upon Oishi-na Town cannot be underestimated. Not only has she been a major influence on her granddaughter, but we can see that the town’s embrace of the lucky cat motif may very well come down to her influence. That Yui even still has her maternal side of the family’s name indicates just how much sway her grandmother had.

These two episodes really begin the work of wrapping up the story. In Episode 37, that means making more concrete steps to reform Narcistoru, although at first it certainly doesn’t look like that’s what they’re doing. His escape from the CooKingdom shows that the process of reformation is already well underway, whether or not he’s aware of it. He seems to think that his flight is solely so that he can take revenge upon those who locked him up in the first place; it quickly turns out, however, that he is no longer the person who used to work for the bad guys. We also see who he might have been before he went over to the dark side. When Amane’s brothers and friends are struggling with a technological issue, he begrudgingly steps in to help them out; this quickly turns into him enjoying what he’s doing, whether or not he’s willing to admit it. He may have always had issues with food, but that doesn’t necessarily make him a terrible human being, and when Amane’s candied apple proves to be something that he enjoys eating, it becomes clear that most of his issues stem from being told how he was supposed to eat. As anyone who’s ever had to deal with specialized diet against their inclination could tell you, that can really suck all the joy out of food.

So it’s not so much that Narcistoru inherently despised the idea of food and eating it, it was more that he never learned or was allowed to learn how good it could be. It’s fitting that it is one of Amane’s foods that helps him to realize what he’s been missing; while she is under no obligation to reform her abuser, that she chooses to do so because she now has the support of friends and people who care about her shows how she is able to move past her trauma. It works here whereas it could not happen in Healin’ Good Pretty Cure, because Narcistoru is, in general, a less reprehensible villain than Daruizen was. I could understand feeling as if he does not deserve the redemption that he is apparently going to be offered here; but I do think that Episode 37 makes a noble attempt to show us why we should feel more kindly towards him. And after all, he does repudiate Secretoru and voluntarily go back into his prison cell at the end of the episode.

A lot of this story’s resolution hinges on the past. Ginger and Cinnamon, Mari’s master and coworker respectively, were involved in the events that eventually led up to the crisis that the Cures now face. in order to figure this out, the group travels back in time twenty years, which is apparently something that Kome Kome can do that the writers decided just now. Seemingly random abilities aside, this little jaunt to the past is important in how it sets up the final showdown yet to come; it is in going back that the group is able to help the group prepare for the future, which implies that all of this was to a degree foreordained. While this gets into some messy science fiction territory, it’s worth it to give Yui the chance to have closure with her grandmother and to confirm that Cinnamon is Takumi’s father. It also solidifies what happened to the original Kome Kome, which, while not strictly necessary, is a nice thing to fully appreciate. Basically Episode 38 begins the process of gathering up all of the loose threads and tying them into the greater weave of the story, and it largely does that in a way that feels natural, even if the time travel element is a little weird.

Yui’s grandmother is right: the warmth and caring of a favorite recipe can be passed down through generations. It’s why specific holidays and occasions have traditional foods, and why family recipes are treasured. Yui’s grandmother says that she continues to watch over her loved ones from where she is now, and that’s the message that Yui needs to hear as the final battle looms just around the corner.


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