Tropical-Rouge! Precure: A Strange Body-Swap Sows the Seeds of Conflict

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Episode 15 of Tropical-Rouge! Precure, "Minori is Laura, Laura is Minori?!" now streaming on Crunchyroll.

From Teen Titans to Star Trek, the body-swap episode is a staple of fiction, and Tropical-Rouge! Precure is no exception. While by no means the most introspective body-swap story, neither forcing two opposing characters to consider each other's point of view or exploring the emotional impact of such a swap, Episode 15 of Tropical-Rouge!  uses the mind-bending foray to set up a future conflict rather than being the climax or cause of one. Her brief time as Minori shows mermaid Laura what life would be like if she wasn't constantly hiding.

The titular swap occurs early in Episode 15, when a banner accidentally enters the Mermaid Aqua Pot, taking Minori and Laura in with it. As it's later revealed that humans can't usually enter the Pot, presumably the magical properties of the trinket got a little scrambled -- and with it, Minori and Laura's bodies.

Neither girl tries to hide her natural personality while in the other's body, and Laura makes quick use of Minori's legs to join in with the Tropical Club's cheer practice. Perhaps the saddest aspect of the entire episode is the fact that, despite Laura being as outgoing and attention-seeking as ever, the only one who is consistently suspicious of "Minori" is Asuka, with Minori's own mother brushing never noticing the difference.

Relishing in her newfound freedom, Laura spends the day walking and jumping and enjoying herself, imploring Minori to also take advantage of being a mermaid while she can. While Laura eventually calms down enough to try and ensure Minori doesn't fall behind on her obligations to create a banner, she does so with her own signature flair.

The ease with which Laura adapts to human life and integrates into Minori's makes the eventual switchback all the more painful. However, when a Yarane-da attacks the girls on their second day, Laura quickly discovers that, despite having Minori's body, ring and Tropical Pact, she cannot transform into Cure Papaya. It isn't until Minori realizes that the others will lose without her that her ring and Pact react to her powerful motivation, undoing the switch so that she can become Cure Papaya and save the day.

As the episode closes, Laura regrets no longer being able to participate, to which Minori says that she'll "cheer enough for the both of us," signaling not only her compassion but that like Laura, she was affected by her time in someone else's body. By seeing herself through Laura's eyes and with Laura's personality, it allowed her to see that she didn't have to be completely outgoing to be bold. As she explains, while being a mermaid was fun, she just prefers to be herself.

While Laura agrees, a prolonged glance at her tail suggests that she somewhat regrets getting back to her own body. Not in the sense that she doesn't feel at home in her own scales, but that she misses being able to move freely on land. Something that the Witch of Delay's servants may take advantage of in the next episode.

As the preview for Episode 16, "The Witch's Trap! Laura Was Captured!," reveals, Laura has been reading "The Little Mermaid," further hammering home how much she enjoyed being human, or more specifically, not hiding. It's not difficult to see how, should any of the villains find out about Laura's secret desire to become human she could be easily tricked into being captured, not only making it so the Cures cannot defeat the Yarane-da (as doing so without returning the stolen motivation would cause it to be lost forever) but so that Laura herself is no longer a threat.

Her sudden disappearance could likely even lead into Tropical-Rouge! Precure's first mid-season arc, kickstarting either a more serious plot as things begin to shape up or providing a fun few weeks before returning to the status quo.

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