oceanicbutterfly: Caroline Banks (Karen lazily photoshopped to have black hair for Recolle purposes) ([c] Caroline)
[personal profile] oceanicbutterfly
YOUR NAME: Andrusi
18+?: Yes
CONTACT: [plurk.com profile] Andrusi

NAME: Karen Minazuki
AGE: 15 or 16 (canon’s timeline is a little wonky)
CANON: Yes! Precure 5 (including its sequel series Yes! Precure 5 GoGo!) (sometimes parsed Yes! Pretty Cure 5 and Yes! Pretty Cure 5 GoGo! respectively) (parentheses are fun!)


I apologize in advance for how stupidly long this is. I would just provide a wiki link but Pretty Cure Wiki is absurdly terrible.

Karen was never really an ordinary girl, born to ludicrously wealthy musician parents, but she was probably at least a well-adjusted little girl for the first few years of her life, until one day (she looks about three or four to me in the flashback) her parents went to perform in a foreign country, leaving her behind in the care of their butler Sakamoto ("Jiiya"). Not wanting to cause trouble for her parents by making them feel like they needed to come home, she lied to them in a phone conversation, claiming she was fine without them. Encouraged, they stayed away for long periods, until by the time Karen was in middle school, they were away year-round, only coming home to visit on Christmas. Jiiya effectively acted as a father to Karen, raising her to be polite, kind, and responsible, but she still missed her real parents.

Years later, fourteen-year-old Karen Minazuki was the president of the student council and widely regarded as the smartest and prettiest girl at school, kind-hearted and helpful, but always distant. Unable to stand by and watch people struggle when there was some way she could help, she'd developed a tendency to take on extra projects to help others at her own expense. This was what Karen was like when a series of mysterious incidents occurred around the school, with people hearing loud crashes, and in one instance, part of the school library being torn up and then mysteriously repaired. Investigating with her friend Komachi, Karen discovered that a girl named Nozomi Yumehara had been at the scene every time.

When asked, Nozomi explained that... she and two of her friends were magical girls, known as Pretty Cure, who fought an evil organization called the Nightmare Group. Not only that, but after a weird explanation of how Karen was "really intelligent" and Komachi was "tranquil," the trio asked the pair to join them. Karen did what anyone would do: she got pissed off and left. So naturally, when another incident occurred, Komachi was at the scene and revealed that she'd joined them. The four-person group now set their sights on Karen again, following her home and ambushing her there, just in time to witness Karen taking a phone call from her parents, during which she once again assured them that she was just fine.

Karen had had just enough time to be confused by their attempts to prove their story when a businessman from the Nightmare Group (named Bunbee) appeared. He turned Karen's gazebo into a monster, which Karen quite sensibly ran away from while the others turned into magical girls and fought it off. Things went badly for them, though, and a large, blue, glowing butterfly (yes) fluttered over to Karen from seemingly nowhere, which a talking plush toy (it makes sense in context) told her would let her transform into Pretty Cure, too. Karen didn't really want to do this, but it was just one more instance of her having to do things for others, and with that resolved, she held out her hand, and the butterfly landed on her wrist... and then just kind of disappeared.

So, the magical girls eventually beat the monster, but the bee guy got away with the tiny plot-coupon creature, and Karen spent the next week feeling worthless and depressed and intentionally avoiding the others. Nozomi, far too stubborn and pigheaded to give up on her original pick for the fifth member of their team, continued to pester Karen, and caught her off guard with an observation: she'd picked up on how much Karen really cared about her parents. Surprised at someone actually understanding her feelings, Karen relented a bit, saying that even if she couldn't help Nozomi as Pretty Cure, they could still be friends. Naturally, Bunbee picked that moment to come back, and the magical girls were hopelessly outmatched in the ensuing fight. Genius that she is, Karen ran out in front of everyone, proclaiming that even though she was powerless, she still wanted to help everyone. As it turns out, genuinely wanting to help was what the butterfly had been waiting for, and it reappeared and turned into sort of a watch, allowing Karen to transform into Cure Aqua and easily turn things around.

When the topic came up, Nozomi suggested that Karen be the leader of Pretty Cure, but Karen said "no u" and Nozomi became the leader instead, which proceeded to not matter for the rest of the series anyway because basically everyone gave everyone else orders. Karen was able to get along reasonably well with the others, but with strong opinions and surprisingly weak social skills, she was a source of some friction early on--first having difficulty adjusting to her equally opinionated teammate Rin, then attempting to help Nozomi improve her grades but pushing her too hard and upsetting her. It was never anything too bad, and her apologies were sincere.

Things took a turn for the worse, though, when Milk, a plush rabbit who had a crush on Nozomi's teacher/boyfriend (again, it makes sense in context), came to town. Milk and Nozomi basically failed to get along in any form whatsoever, and one of their altercations ended in a disaster that led to a shouting match that left everyone feeling awkward the next day. With the five Pretty Cures emotionally split apart for the time being, the Nightmare Group took their chance to strike, forcing Karen into a creepy mind-rape sequence where a copy of herself forced her to acknowledge her deepest fear: that in always pushing herself forward, she'd left everyone else behind, and didn't have any real friends. The resulting soul-crushing despair left her vulnerable to a "Mask of Despair" which put her under the Nightmares' control. After three more such sequences, Nozomi (the last remaining Cure) did some stuff we don't care about and then managed to snap Karen and the others out of it using the Power of True Friendship, and after some exchanged reassurances and apologies, Milk finally decided to start being useful and they all gained the ability to kill giant crazy guys by crashing a giant mechanical butterfly into them. Seriously.

The mid-season upgrade thus secured, Karen demonstrated her brand new Aqua Tornado attack on a Nightmare who'd screwed up Komachi's plans for a summer festival, and gradually befriended Milk, encouraging her to not be such an asshole all the time. This eventually led her to defend Milk by riding on horseback and fighting with a sword. The sword came pretty much completely out of nowhere, but we don't care because it was awesome. At some point presumably after this, there was a movie that does not fit into continuity, but if we pretend it does then Karen fought her evil twin, and she felt really bad about killing her but still did it because that's what Karen does to evil people.

After a few more months of running around having episodic adventures, the writers realized "oh yeah, we need an ending," and they finally found the last plot coupon creature they needed to activate the MacGuffin. So naturally the Nightmares immediately stole it, and they had to go on the offensive to get it back, and Nozomi ended up turning their leader good with the power of friendship but then the Nightmare leader insisted they had to kill her anyway so they did. And all the talking plush toys went back to their home dimension and took the glowing butterflies with them, so Karen and the others were de-powered... for all of one week.

Then a pretty lady from an infinite garden of roses (oh-so-creatively named Cure Rose Garden) sent Nozomi another MacGuffin in the mail, and they all teamed up with the mailman (who was secretly a penguin) to protect it from another evil group called Eternal. (Which was, incidentally, Bunbee's new workplace, because he's awesome and the fans demanded he come back.) Karen got a new costume and a new attack called Sapphire Arrow which I already described earlier. Then a ~*mysterious*~ girl named Kurumi who could transform into a magical girl named Milky Rose started appearing, and we were all very surprised that this was just Milk with a new ability to take human form, really. And they were all really just way too powerful at this point, but so were the bad guys so it kind of evened out.

Karen stayed friends with everyone, and they got trapped in various storybooks together (yes, this was a thing that happened on a regular basis). Karen got dragged into competing on a game show that turned out to be rigged and run by Eternal, and the whole thing almost ended really badly but Karen saved everyone by exploiting loopholes in the rules and therefore winning a coin flip on a technicality. They all went to downtown Tokyo, where Karen visited a hospital (she wants to become a doctor when she grows up) and met a little boy who gave her an apple. But Karen's personality was pretty much set in stone by this point so none of this really matters to us. Eventually the five Cures got turned to stone by a Medusa knockoff who promptly got killed by her boss, but they got better and all six magical girls teamed up to kill the leader of Eternal by--I swear this actually happened--summoning a giant woman to give him a hug. And they all lived happily ever after, unless you count the non-canon crossover movies in which she fought more bad guys and experienced no development whatsoever and starting with the fourth one she usually wasn’t even voiced.

Karen is kind-hearted and responsible to a fault, willing to help people well beyond what could reasonably be expected of her. This comes originally from a genuine desire to do good, but over time she’s begun to feel obligated to do the same, which can lead her to get frustrated with her self-inflicted workload. This dual motivation is most prominently visible in her student council role. Early on, she’s seen taking on others’ tasks, not wanting to see them struggle but also needing to make sure the work gets done, and ultimately reasoning that that she has to do it herself; much later, she sets up a suggestion box and sees to the requests personally, actively seeking out more ways she can help.

Relatedly, she places a very high value on doing things "correctly," whether that's with respect to rules, traditions, or just what seems right to her, and she gets frustrated when people don’t live up to her standards, leading to her doing things like getting angry at Nozomi for having trouble in school. Still, there’s a self-sacrificial nature at her core, which goes all the back to when, as a child, she was willing to sacrifice her relationship with her parents in favor of their happiness. This resurfaced much later when, thinking she’d never be able to transform herself, she was equally willing to give up her life just to stall for time.

Sometimes, Karen ends up facing a situation where being ~*Really Smart™*~ just isn’t enough, and she’s left staring at a problem she doesn't seem to be able to solve; a good example of this was when the school activity budget came up short. Unfortunately, Karen is not used to failure, and when it seems to be impending, she has a tendency to fixate on her inadequacy; rather than ask for help with the budget, she went off to sulk. This can make it difficult for her to reexamine the situation and find a solution, especially if an out-of-the-box approach is needed--in the case of the budget problems, the solution was to have the clubs pool their existing resources, but Karen couldn't see this until basically all of her friends pointed it out. Losing agency in a situation is even worse for her--she can handle fighting a seemingly hopeless battle to protect her friends, but a coin toss for the same purpose had her on the verge of a breakdown.

Karen’s also persistent to the point of stubbornness, which is a good thing when the monster of the week just knocked her through three walls, but not as good when Rin is suggesting that they put a different color of flowers on display. One aspect of this is that she has a competitive and somewhat arrogant streak, which tends to surface when people question her or her ability; Rin ran into this as well when she implied that Karen might not be able to jump over a stream and promptly had the chance to see Karen all proud of herself for doing just that.

Nearly all of the above is unknown to most people. If there’s one thing Karen is a master of, it’s keeping her complexities to herself--she’s been practicing it ever since her parents left, and multiple people have noted that she seems like a different person when she's among the few friends she’s really open with. To most people, she’s smart, rich, pretty, and superficially friendly, and that’s about it. It’s hard to connect to someone like that, so while Karen has a tendency to accumulate admirers, she doesn’t have many close friends. Karen is very much aware of this, and although she's made close friends such as Komachi and the other protagonists, her greatest fear is isolation, especially of a self-inflicted nature. It’s a fear she keeps deeply buried, but as seen in the Mask of Despair incident, it can be crippling when brought to the surface.


Karen is ~*Really Smart™*~, and also has a ridiculously good memory--canonically, she’s memorized the names and faces of everyone in the school, and remembers everything that’s said in class so she never needs to study. Between that and being in relatively good physical condition, she can easily pick up new skills, even non-trivial ones like being a magical girl.

And on that note, using a cellphone-like device called a CureMo, Karen can transform into Cure Aqua, a powerful magical girl with several water-related attacks: she can shoot water from her hand using Aqua Stream or the slightly stronger Aqua Tornado, and fire ice-tipped "Sapphire Arrows" (great for one-shotting the Monster Of The Week in the first half of the series). She's no physical slouch, either, with the ability to jump really high, run really fast, and hit really hard, limited only by her determination (which is a polite way of saying her strength varies depending on the needs of the plot). By far her most-used power is her ability to get up without a scratch after things that really should have seriously hurt her, or even outright killed her; while things can still cause her pain, and some things (bladed weapons, electricity) are fairly consistently portrayed like actual threats, only transformative magic has actually been shown to work as advertised (on various occasions she's been shrunk, petrified, and turned into a mermaid).

When all of Pretty Cure 5 are gathered, they have the ability to perform a combined finishing move called Rainbow Rose Explosion, which is similar in function to their individual attacks but even more overpowered. This replaced the giant mechanical butterfly thing I mentioned in her history, which was simply called Five Explosion (well, Pretty Cure Five Explosion).

While it isn't normally within her ability, Cure Aqua has been known to grow giant butterfly wings and fly when she is receiving added power from an outside source (i.e. as a powerup for a climactic final battle).

AU NAME: Caroline Banks
AU AGE: 16
PHYSICAL DIFFERENCES: Caroline has black hair, but otherwise generally looks like Karen.


Unlike her previous self, Caroline Banks was not born to wealthy parents; while Mr. and Mrs. Banks weren’t poor, they were on the lower end of the middle class. Still, they wanted the best for their daughter, and if that meant working long hours at unforgiving jobs and coming home late to eat microwave dinners, that was just what it was going to have to mean. Caroline was always a perceptive girl, and from an early age she picked up on just how hard her parents were pushing themselves for her sake. She asked what she could do for them in return, and they told her that seeing her happy was its own reward. The first few times, she actually believed it, too.

In time, though, the idea that a smile and a bowl of Easy Mac were an adequate reward for a 12-hour workday wore thin, and Caroline started to feel like she was dead weight, just benefiting from her parents’ work without really contributing anything. She started to become more insistent, demanding they tell her something she could do for them in return, pouncing on any offhand comment that sounded like a problem she could help with. By the time she was eight, she was handling most of the household chores, and by ten she was keeping the house looking like a model home. A comment from her father about tutoring motivated Caroline to do everything in her power to make that unnecessary, and by age twelve she was at the top of her class in school. With practice, she figured out what study habits worked best for her, and during middle school, school stopped seeming difficult at all.

Which meant that, once again, she felt like she wasn’t working as hard as her parents were.

Now that she was older, Caroline approached this problem from a fresh perspective. Some of her friends in school earned money by doing chores. Caroline obviously (she thought) couldn’t ask for money from her parents for doing what she figured was her bare minimum acceptable contribution to the household, but she could do similar work for other people, and finally join her parents in providing for herself. She quickly gained a reputation for being very good at walking dogs and taking care of small children, but when she tallied up what she’d made in a month, the result seemed like a joke, like something you’d give a little kid who was playing at working. She was a little kid by most people’s standards, of course, but that didn’t matter to her.

Going into high school, Caroline resolved to change this. High school students were almost adults, and could hold actual jobs--part-time jobs, that is, but still real work. As soon as she felt she was acclimated to the high school environment, she set out to get herself hired somewhere. This was easier said than done, since she was still on the young side of high school and couldn’t drive yet, and her freshman year came and went without her finding anywhere that would hire her, at least not when there were older students available. The unsuccessful job search took its toll on her emotionally, which started to affect her grades, which fed back into her emotions, leaving Caroline starting to doubt whether she was good for anything. The older students really were better qualified, she thought, so all she was doing by applying was just making more work for everyone.

Finally, though, she had a flash of insight, and applied for a job other students likely wouldn’t have considered, working for the Écarlate family. It would be hard work that would be more typically assigned to an adult, but it was work Caroline knew she could do, and by some miracle she managed to impress the parents enough that they decided to give her a chance. Thus, at age 16, Caroline landed a job working as a maid.

Where she’ll hopefully be successful, because she’s bet all her self-worth on this.

(Permission was given by Émilie, Nina, and Dani’s players for the use of the Écarlate family.)


The single biggest difference between Caroline and Karen is that Caroline’s self-worth is fragile and held together mainly by her perception of usefulness; her greatest fear is that she’s nothing but a burden on others. This is only possible because she doesn’t share Karen’s fear of isolation. She knows other people are close to her and care about her, she’s just concerned about whether she deserves it.

This often leads to Caroline behaving similarly to how Karen would, but with different motivation behind it--while they both might jump at a chance to do someone’s work for them, Karen’s goal is for the other person to not have a problem anymore, while Caroline’s goal is to have been helpful. It’s not that she knows she can help and therefore she should, but rather, she wants to help because that will prove she can. This means she’s happier with partial successes, but she takes total failures even harder. Caroline is also more likely to actively search for ways she can help people when nobody seems to obviously need help--while Karen is just as happy taking an extended break as long as it doesn’t mean she’s blowing anything off, too much downtime makes Caroline feel uncomfortable.

Caroline has also avoided developing Karen’s fixation on doing things “properly,” partly as a “quantity vs. quality” effect from pushing herself to be successful more often, and partly because she’s not rich and powerful like Karen was so the rules are less likely to work in her favor this time around. She’s out to get things done first and foremost, and if that means doing things in a way that’s unusual, or that involves bending the rules a little, then that’s just what she’ll do. Similarly, she has a much higher tolerance for other people’s faults and wrongdoings, and is much more likely to let things slide--as long as she doesn’t think you’re causing issues for other people, you’re okay in Caroline’s book.

On the other hand, if someone is deliberately causing problems--especially if they’re interfering with Caroline doing her thing--they’ll quickly end up on the receiving end of an anger that, in a previous life, was reserved for the explicitly villainous. This is the most dramatic example of another difference, which is that Caroline doesn’t have Karen’s skill at keeping her emotions buried. She still tries to keep her feelings out of others’ way, but her preferred method of not letting other people realize she’s lonely or depressed or whatever is to distract herself from that feeling.


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Karen Minazuki/Cure Aqua/Caroline Banks (Recollé)

January 2017

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