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 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:
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.
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.