The Philosophy of Doki Doki Precure: Overview

Recovering the True Heart
Recovering the True Heart

Very few and small spoilers.

The new Precure series is already up to episode 14, so what do we think? Does it continue the surprising metaphysical depth and wisdom of the other later Precure shows (not to mention the delightful cuteness)? Let’s take a look.

People who dismiss Precure as superficial fluff are really looking in the wrong place for profundity. I blame modern media studies and literature courses and suchlike. They teach people that “depth” lies in such essentially superficial matters as “social reality” or “character development” or “moral ambiguity” rather than in the reflection of cosmic realities and the fundamental moral realities without which there wouldn’t be anything to be ambiguous about.

So, on to Doki Doki Precure.

Doki Doki is a common Japanese term for excitement. It is onomatopoeia for a fast-beating heart, and on one level indicates the exciting nature of the show, but on a deeper level indicates the show’s theme of the heart. “The heart” in the West has become a relatively superficial term indicating the emotions as opposed to the reason, rather than the center of each soul which is ultimately one with the center of the cosmos (which is why the individual Heart Flowers were connected to the Great Heart Tree in Heartcatch Precure).

The symbolism of playing card suits is a primary theme

The primary theme of Doki Doki is the four card suits: Hearts, Swords (spades), Diamonds and Rosettes (clubs). Swords, of course, are the original form of spades, as anyone familiar with the tarot knows (the English name comes from espada = sword). Rosettes for Clubs is a little less easy, but recall that clubs are wands in the tarot and the wands are all depicted as living things sprouting green leaves. Cure Rosetta’s surname is Yotsuba (四葉)= “four-leafed” and the four-leafed clover is her symbol, which is a vertically symmetrical version of the traditional Club symbol.

We should also realize that while in the Western system Clubs/Wands are attributed to the element of Fire, in the Eastern system they very naturally fit the element of Wood. This has a further ramification in that Wood is connected in the eastern system with Jupiter (or Sai Thamë in the feminine system) and thus with the rulership of life and nature from the courses of the stars to the smallest growing thing. Alice Yotsuba, Cure Diamond, as the head of the Yotsuba organization has enormous power which she often uses to help the precures in their work. She is also surrounded by the opulence of traditional aristocratic wealth which is a very Thamic (Jupiter-y) motif.

However, the costumes of each of the Precures are adorned most prominently with a heart at the front, while the other suit motifs are relegated to hair decorations and earrings. Similarly the respective fairies each have a large heart with a small heart above it at the center of their foreheads with the other suit-motifs on their ears. Even the baby (tiny spoiler) has a heart that glows visibly when she works her magic.

Cure Rosetta, in her battle-speech, indicates the profound reason for this:

The heart is the primary symbol even for Cures of other suits

sekai wo sei suru no ha ai dake desu

Now this is a little hard to translate directly into English. I would be inclined to say “It is love alone that reins the world”. Sei suru is defined as “to rein in (e.g. a horse, unruly people); to bridle;to control; to command”. The word sei 制 alone is a root-word meaning: system; organization; imperial command; laws; regulation etc.

The statement is very close to the feminine scripture “It is love that holds the stars within their courses” which unites the Thamic, or world-controlling harmony,  function with the Sushuric or love function indicated by the prevailing heart-motif of the series.

Even kakkoii warrior Cure Sword is adorned with a heart
Even kakkoii warrior Cure Sword is adorned with a heart

The battles in this series (reminiscent of Heartcatch) are to return the true heart of the owner, which have been taken over by selfishness. When a heart is taken over by selfishness it becomes dark and has bat wings. When it is recovered it returns to being bright and pink with angel-wings. This clearly depicts the deeper metaphysical significance of the choices each of us makes every day.

Interestingly, each of the people thus “tempted” actually resists the temptation and returns her own heart to its true, healthy state (an optimism one would hardly expect in a Western production) but it is then violently taken by the Selfish who “grant the wish” of the victim by turning her into a monster.

We have only looked at a few of the fundamental motifs of the series. The stories contain lots of interesting philosophy which we may look at later, but it will be harder to keep that spoiler-free!

Personal note from Cure Dolly at time of writing

Watching Doki Doki Precure has been a bit slow as I watch in Japanese with Japanese subtitles, but I find I get faster and faster as I go on. Episode 14 aired yesterday and I am currently on episode ten. Cure Peace (another writer for this site) has recently found a site that relays the Japanese broadcasts in real time and has invited me to watch with her. I should be up to date by the next broadcast. But watching in real time with no subbies is kind of scary, so wish me luck.

2 thoughts on “The Philosophy of Doki Doki Precure: Overview

  1. I really like your analysis of DokiDoki Precure, Cure Dolly. Your description of the modern view of depth was really quite profound. Not only do these shows have surprising metaphysical depth, they also explore some very real and deep emotional themes such as friendship, loyalty, and forgiveness. You are right though, in that there is no moral ambiguity. Good is good and evil is evil, and good always triumphs over evil in the end. Good is also who people really are, and evil people becoming purified and good again is another very strong theme in previous episodes. (I wonder if that will happen in this one). In that vein, in particular, there has been, however, a great deal of “character development” in the previous series, and it looks like there will continue to be in this one. Cure Sword is quite a fascinating character, for example!

    It is interesting to note the similarities and the differences between this show and Heartcatch Precure. In both shows, the people have their Hearts stolen. As you noted, in this series, the victims do try to go back and resist the evil. In Heartcatch, the victim’s Heart Flowers wilt, sometimes, but not always, or even usually, the wilting is due to a moral failing. Often, it is just a wound of sadness or other negative feeling, sometimes quite a long term heart wound. In Heartcatch, the victims can not heal their own wilted Heart Flowers by themselves, although, usually after they are restored, they, usually with the help of someone who now understands the heart wound, are able to restore the Heart Flower to health. Superficially, these are similar concepts, but I think that they speak to different conditions. As you say, DokiDoki speaks to the day to day struggle between the True and False Selves.

    It is interesting that the villains in this series are from the Selfish Kingdom, and they purport to give their victims “what they always wanted.” If this is not a commentary on the modern materialist forces running rampant today, I am not sure what is .

    Oh yes, and good luck with watching in real time in Japanese without subtitles.

    Ganbatte kudasai!

  2. Oh I do agree about Cure Sword being an interesting and developing character. I did not at all mean to decry character development. It can be very important. I am sure some things do character development better than Precure shows, but my real point is that other things are more important, and I find character development much more interesting in the context of a real metaphysical drama than in the context of a wholly material story. The human drama belongs against the backdrop of the Cosmic Drama.

    As it says in the Sutra:

    Like to a play is thy life, and the acting of mummers; like to a painted scene all of the things of the world … Truly, the truth of the play is the dance of the soul; her journey through forests and plains, over seas, over mountains; her restless and wearisome quest through the whole of the world.

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