Tropical-Rouge! Precure’s Last Cure Is Also Its Most Mysterious

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Episode 5 of Tropical-Rouge! Precure, "Here Comes Senpai! Burn, Cure Flamingo!" now streaming on Crunchyroll.

Thus far, as with most Pretty Cure series, Tropical-Rouge! Precure's characters have been relatively simple, with at least one or two dominant traits that separate them from the rest of the cast and make them instantly recognizable in both appearance and personality. The latest addition to the roster, Cure Flamingo, AKA Asuka Takizawa, changes that in Episode 5, "Here Comes Senpai! Burn, Cure Flamingo!" with a surprising twist.

Unlike the other Cures, who took Manatsu a while to recruit, Manatsu and Laura decide to recruit Asuka after their very first meeting, where she handily dispatches some guys who were about to beat Manatsu up over a misunderstanding. Having learned from the other Cures that all that's really needed for a girl to become a Pretty Cure is a willingness to fight for her friends, the world and what's right, they waste no time at all asking her to join the team. But she refuses, saying that she doesn't "want to team up with anyone."

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In stark contrast to the personality that could be inferred from the theme song, Asuka seems to be much more levelheaded and quiet, quickly pointing out the selfishness of Laura's "become queen" motivation and putting forward a "lone wolf" type of personality -- that clearly doesn't suit her at all.

This is made obvi0us when, despite her refusal, Manatsu chases her down and ends up running into the Student Council President, who refuses their club application on account of: 1. being too vague, and 2. all the rooms in the school are already taken by other clubs. Overhearing this conversation, Asuka immediately steps in calling it unfair, and offers to help the girls find a room.

This interaction with the Student Council President reveals a few things about Asuka's character, but raises more questions than it answers; firstly, she doesn't even think twice about volunteering to help them, the same way that she didn't think twice about stepping in to save Manatsu from the boys on the street. She does it without even realizing what she's doing, as proven when Manatsu and Sango thank her -- only for her to grimace as she realizes what she just agreed to.

The second thing it reveals is that she and the President have a history. While it's not elaborated on, both girls are incredibly (but politely) antagonistic towards each other, with the President's tone changing completely from "I'm sorry I have to do this" towards Manatsu and Sango, to "oh yeah? Show me what you've got," when dealing with Asuka.

Yet in spite of herself, Asuka not only succeeds in finding the girls a room, but ends up helping them clean it out when it's revealed to be a shed on the roof that's basically for storage. Since she's in the know about the Cures, Laura is free to join the girls in their cleaning efforts and does so by "supervising," while Asuka continues to call her out on her self-serving behaviour.

Unlike Minori's debut, we never get to hear Asuka's thoughts or see any flashbacks to her past, meaning that, like her new friends, we see only her contradictory actions, stolen glances and have to make inferences from those, a classic and well-executed example of "show, don't tell." The most meaningful of all her glances is a blink-and-you'll miss it moment when she and Minori are taking down bags of recycling, and they pass the school's tennis courts.

She stares with an almost unreadable expression of sadness and pain before Minori calls out to her again. The implied tennis-connection is strengthened later in the episode during her attack, "Swooping Flamingo Smash," where one of the impact frames shows a tennis ball. From this, we can gather some of the reasons behind Flamingo's hesitancy, as well as a possible character arc.

It could be that she was previously part of the school's tennis team, perhaps with the Student Council President, but she was betrayed in some way, and removed from the team (as the other Cures discover that she is not currently in a club), and as a result, decided that she was done with teamwork period -- despite her naturally helpful and cheery nature. While she does manage to come in and save the day, it is perhaps her last comment to Manatsu that is the most telling, "I guess I can... try believing teammates." While reconciliation with any former teammates is still far off, and her past likely to revealed through bits and pieces before then, we look forward to finding out more and more of Flamingo's true personality and character.


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