Spoilers are just part of the Internet. Every time you open up a web browser, scroll through your twitter feed, watch a You Tube video, or read the comment section of an article you roll the dice when it comes to spoilers. You can minimize your risk by avoiding places that love to post spoilers, curating your social media, and knowing when you should step away from the Internet if you want go into certain things pure. The rub is even the best ninjas of the Information Superhighway will slam into some like piece of information that ruins a big surprise in something they care about. Even Kate who is usually super good at this will get hit by a spoiler from time to time.
Now when you get spoiled by some random noodle noggin either making mischief or an honest mistake it may annoy you but it just feels like a simple act of misfortune akin to a bird pooping on your car just after you wash it. When someone you know lets something slip it feels quite a bit more personal. But when a news site does it simultaneously feels utterly unprofessional. I have noticed more and more that news sites try and tip toe around spoilers and have even started to use that to their advantage. You will see very clickbait styled titles that make it seem like they have the secrets to Life, the Universe and Everything but actually only contain the most insignificant snippet of information. It lets them draw eyeballs to what would otherwise be utterly forgettable news while simultaneously avoiding angry mobs who feel cheated.
I mostly bring this up because despite how sensitive most sites are to this I feel like the anime news sites casually spoiled major parts of Precure without a second thought. If you will indulge me I’m going muse a little about this.
Spoilers: I’m going to have to talk about Precure spoilers for Maho Girls PreCure!
Before I begin I will note that this is Precure in the end. It is a magical girl show mostly for little girls that also happens to also have an adult fandom (with varying degrees of creepiness.) Of all of the injustices that can be inflicted on someone online someone springing some detail about the identity or existence of unannounced character is supremely low on the list of transgressions. This is not really cry for major reform in the field of anime journalism. I’m not asking for Lauren Orsini to start an intervention at the offices of Crunchyroll News and Anime News Network. This is more of a pet peeve than anything else. Something I would like to talk about but nothing worth actually getting angry about.
If you have been paying attention to this blog you MIGHT have noticed like we liked Go! Princess PreCure. The fact that we talked about the series as often as we could and constantly gave it awards every season for four seasons should have been a subtle clue. Because of that I was a little annoyed when Crunchyroll posted about Cure Scarlet before she had been introduced in the show. I feel like Twilight’s turn from antagonist to protagonist was a surprising little twist that added a nice bit of flavor to the series. When I saw the news items I warned everyone that we watch the show with to avoid reading the post so her redemption would be a surprise. While I am sure some people in our group might have suspected the change was coming I still wanted it to be a surprise. Plus even if you had a good idea that Twilight’s defection was coming it was not clear at what point it the show it was going to happen. Cure Passion and Cure Beat had already done the Heel–Face Turn so the rhythm of such events already had a precedent but there was no clear indication that had to be the case.
In the end everyone in our group avoided the spoilers, we enjoyed the show, and I did not think that much more of the incident. I never really wrote about it on the blog or talked about it on the podcast because it did not seem like that big a deal. One year later the same thing happens with Maho Girls PreCure! and this time it was arguably worse.
This time both Crunchyroll News and Anime News Network spoiled the existence of Cure Felice before she was even seriously hinted at in the show. This might seem like it was exactly like what happened last year but there are a few major factors that make this a bit worse. First of all this time both sites very blatantly gave away the fact Ha-chan would become Cure Felice. Both major sites did the same thing in this case. Secondly the mere existence of a third was very shocking. Maho Girls PreCure! was very much a return to the formula of the first two Precure series. In both of those series there were two Precures for most of the series and they never really added and additional Cure. (For those who wish to be utterly pedantic: Kiryuu Michiru and Kiryuu Kaoru are never officially considered Cures and Shiny Luminous is in a weird middle ground.) This means that this is was first point at which the show really deviated from the two Cure mold. If this was your more standard later Precure show this additional Cure would be rather standard. In this case it was a much more shocking twist on the original formula. The third reason was that Ha-chan just seemed to be the baby fairy character. It was as if Ai or Chiffon became a full fledged Cure. Now Milky Rose has shown that there was some precedent for a mascot character getting an upgrade but even then she more like Shiny Luminous than a full Cure.
When I was discussing this with someone else a theory came up that the news sites did this as a more insidious form of click bait. They were intentionally posting things like this to get more hits. I myself try to adhere to my own version of Hanlon’s razor whenever I can. I tend to believe that you should never assume malicious intention when ignorance or laziness will suffice. I think it is far more likely that both sites thought the news would be of interest to their readers and clearly just did not think that anyone could have been upset by the way they presented it more than deliberately framing it in an inflammatory manner.
Also in the defense of both news sites it is hardly a deeply held secret only held by a small cabal of insiders. Because so much of PreCure’s success centers around the fact that the toys for the series still sell like hotcakes they send out solicitations for new merchandise far in advance of when new items and characters are introduced in the show. This means that anyone who is willing to do a small amount of digging can discover spoilers fairly easily as Toei Animation is not really taking great pains to keep information about the show under wraps. In fact they already have Cure Felice prominently on the show’s website in order to get the audience hyped for this new character.
But here is the deal. When Anime News Network spoiled Sanji’s last name they went out of their way to apologize for that accident. So it is fairly clear that the anime news sites don’t want to post spoilers if they might genuinely anger their readers. But so far there is no campaign of outrage as far as I can tell. I myself did not complain mostly because I had already been spoiled by Twitter. I mostly just did my due diligence and warned my friends who I thought might be annoyed by randomly stumbling upon the news.
The main take away from all of this is actually what it says about Precure fandom in North America. Clearly when a similar situation came up with One Piece a noticeable number of people were instantly outraged. I don’t think it is because One Piece fans are more or less confrontational than anyone else. I think it just shows that the western Precure fandom is not large enough to generate that sort of reaction. Lets pretend that if 100 fans see such an article that only 1 of them is going to take umbrage with the spoiler. One Piece fandom with its far larger fandom in North America will have many more angry voices despite the fact that the percentage of people who are upset is the same.
If anything speaks volumes about why no one has picked up Precure for legal streaming I think this is it. It would be nice if Precure had the level of popularity that would not only got a spoiler like the reveal of Cure Felice removed from the front page but make it much less likely to happen in the first place.