Villain One: defeated! Or perhaps “saved” would be the better way to put it; Gentlu wasn’t so much put to rest as she was removed from Amane’s consciousness, allowing her to go back to being the person she was before. We don’t know what that person is like, of course, but given that she can see Recipepi (as shown by the little card she drew for her family’s fruit parlor), it’s a pretty safe bet that she’s a decent human being when she’s not being mind-controlled. (It also means that she’s a good candidate for fourth Cure, but we’re definitely not quite there yet.) Given Narcistoru’s personality, I wouldn’t be surprised if he hadn’t brainwashed her because she’s a good person; it’s an added challenge and possibly a joy to corrupt the person who could, potentially, stop you from carrying out your evil plans. And that it was so difficult to keep her brainwashed once the Cures showed up speaks to how little she wanted to be Gentlu in the first place – she may not have been fully aware of what she was doing before they transformed, but being aware that the missions she was carrying out were truly wrong very nearly undid everything long before the girls liberated her heart by force.
In terms of classic magical girl stories, that’s also an interesting element. The closest link I can think of is Corrector Yui, where Haruna, Yui’s friend and the girl who was supposed to be the magical girl, is corrupted, and part of Yui’s mission is to get her back to herself; in more recent years (and not technically classic magical girl territory), Puella Magi Madoka Magica also deals with the idea of a magical girl who has lost her way or been corrupted. We see it in other places as well, such as Phantom Thief Jeanne, which does some interesting things with the concept in terms of where Maron gets her power from, and the live-action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon TV series with its Dark Sailor Mercury story arc. As a concept in magical girl stories, it’s a testament to the power of the girls themselves: the villains may try to rope them in and change their missions, but at the end of the day, the girls are strong enough to break the chains holding them back and to save the people important to them. It’s one of the most feminist features of the genre, a statement that they themselves are strong enough to push away those who would corrupt them or force them down a path they don’t agree with. In the case of Gentlu/Amane, the Cures’ belief in her good side – as a powerful figure in her own right as an artist and the student council president – is what’s able to snap the control the Bundoru Gang has over her; it’s Amane’s own understanding that she’s doing the wrong thing and asking for help to stop it that shows her own inner power.
Although we don’t see tons of new attacks or tricks this week – apart from the combined mixer attack, which is pretty great, even if the thought of strawberry, pineapple, and soda flavors together makes me feel a little ill – what we do see is Yui’s determination on full display. We could say that her introduction to Gentlu in the heat of battle is her not understanding what the other girl actually said to her (and yeah, that’s very possible), but it’s also Yui owning both parts of herself: Yui the middle school second year and Cure Precious. She’s not afraid to tell people who she is, and that may be part of what helps Amane to shed her unwanted guise, because she is trying to hide it, insisting that she’s only Gentlu when we know that Amane is trying desperately to get out. That Mari doesn’t stop Yui or reprimand her for telling all is an indicator both that he believes in her and also that he doesn’t think she’s making an irreparable mistake. Mari trusts Yui, Kokone, and Ran, and that’s really nice to see in a guardian figure.
Whether Takumi feels the same about learning who Yui turns into, however, may be another story. He’s on the verge of revealing something major that’s locked in the little box he’s shown holding at the end of the episode, and it looks like he may be joining the team very soon, whether he wants to or not. I can’t think that Mari didn’t notice him slipping into the Delicious Field, but his magic may not be sensitive to that sort of thing; it’s hard to know right now since every other time he’s seen the extra person bursting in. Only one thing’s for sure: the story’s heating up, and Gentlu may well have been the least of the Cures’ problems.
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