WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Episode 24 of Healin' Good Pretty Cure, "We're Coming! Healing on Wind," now streaming on Crunchyroll.
In Episode 24 of Healin' Good Pretty Cure, Toei Animation went above and beyond illustrating the Byogen battle against Cure Earth and the other Pretty Cure. The Pretty Cure series is well known for its highly animated fight scenes that catch the interest of animation fans and for this episode, animator Yuu Yoshiyama's work especially stood out.
Yoshiyama has animated on past Pretty Cure series such as Star Twinkle PreCure and Hugtto! PreCure. She's also currently working on the new Digimon Adventure series. She did some fantastic special effects animation in episode 3 of Healin' Good Pretty Cure during Cure Fontaine's attack and are back again in Healin' Good with more lovely animation, and some surprises hidden in their impact frames too.
In this episode, the gang all take a trip to a nearby lake in the mountains. There, they are overcome by the natural beauty of Earth as they lay out a picnic blanket to eat, the healing animals swim in the crystal clear lake waters and the girls frolic in the grass. As the team walks in the woods, Nodoka spots a baby sparrow on the trail and is about to take care of it until a local arborist named Sakuya Itsuki stops her stating to not interfere with the animals' growth. Seeing as the theme of this Pretty Cure series is healing, it was only a matter of time until it seriously discussed issues of climate and wild animal health. As an arborist, Itsuki heals trees for a living and chose her profession out of a desire to protect nature. As such, she and the Pretty Cure, especially Asumi, share a connection as they all want to protect and heal the planet.
Not all the characters in Pretty Cure feel this way. Daruizen despises the nice wind and mountain air aroma. Once he sees the same baby sparrow on the ground at night, he decides to test his Byogen crystal on it. Rate gets sick, and Asumi senses something is off. Asumi vows to save Itsuki and the mountain lake area, summoning a gust of wind to transport her and the other girls to the Byogen's location.
This Byogen is rather special as it gives itself a name —Nebusokku. Nebusokku is a powerful bird, knocking down trees and using its feathers as a weapon, but it is also rather insecure. It tries to prove itself to the rather disinterested Daruizen by jumping into the air for a finishing attack, but, perhaps due to still being a baby sparrow, Nebusokku is afraid of heights and plops back down to the ground crying. Renewed with confidence, the Pretty Cure come up with a group attack to defeat the bird monster.
Here is where we get some seriously fun action. Cure Earth hypes up to attack Nebusokku, smashing in a classic black and white power-up impact frame. As she shoves the bird towards a trap, easter eggs like Greymon's face are sprinkled in the frames. The other three Pretty Cure meanwhile launch both Cure Earth and Nebusokku, who was chasing Cure Earth, into the air. Nebusokku though, due to its fear of heights, crashes down and gets kicked back towards the sky, resulting in another dynamic frame of action with Cure Selene's arrow hidden inside. As the finishing attack is blown, Nebusokku returns to its baby sparrow state as the lake and land are cured.
Over at the artist_unknown blog, FAR interviewed the animator behind this fight, Yuu Yoshiyama, on her history and quirks as an animator. When asked about her thoughts on what an impact frame even is, Yoshiyama states she considers an impact frame to be the "Jack-in-the-box of animation techniques" and hopes fans revisit their scenes to look for those special drawings. With surprises like Greymon's silhouette and Cure Selene's arrow, it'll be exciting to see what future references Yoshiyama can squeeze into these "single-cool-lonely drawings."