Category Archives: Smile

The Philosophical Riddle of the Ball of Neglect

The philosophy of Doki Doki Precure in the matter of selfishness and Amity is so rich and deep that I am still mulling it furiously and hoping I can post before I leave!

In the meantime I have just watched Smile Precure 31-32 and this story raises some fascinating issues connected to the concepts under consideration.

In this story, the Precures are confronted by the most powerful form of Akanbe yet — a hyper-Akanbe it seems that they need the help of both Candy and the Royal Clock to overcome it, but Joker traps Candy in the Ball of Neglect so that she cannot help the others.

Candy caught in the Ball of Neglect
Candy caught in the Ball of Neglect

Now the Ball of Neglect is very interesting. Its interior is a dream-world of pure pleasure and idleness. The term used for it in Japanese is 怠け玉 namakedama. Tama (dama) means a sphere or globe and namake is translated as

1: to be idle; to slacken;
2: to neglect (e.g. one’s work)

Candy’s version of the ball of neglect is a playground with other fairies and limitless supplies of delicious food

Candy in the interior of the Ball of Neglect
Candy in the interior of the Ball of Neglect

It is a little like the drug-induced “reality” of The Lotos Eaters. Even more interestingly, Joker declares that this is the Bad End that he and his cohorts have in mind for the worlds. Now so far we have seen the Bad Enders spread depression and despair. Now they seem to be offering a false bliss: a crystallization of the Pleasure Principle.

But why is it false? Is happiness not happiness? If this is what the Bad Enders are offering, why not take it? Why, as Joker himself argues, opt for a world of struggle and effort when one could have pure, idle pleasure? He says in fact that their plan will succeed because no one will be fool enough to reject what they are offering.

And why, indeed, should they?

That is the profound philosophical point raised by this storyline — akin in some ways to the old philosophical riddle “is it better to be Socrates unhappy or a pig happy?”

Candy’s moment of realization comes as a result of a lesson taught to her by Miyuki-chan at the beginning of the episode when she wants to have half a big cookie but Miyuki-chan divides it into six so everyone can have a small piece.

Shared food is more delicious
Shared food is more delicious

At first Candy looks distinctly unhappy about the arrangement, but Miyuki-chan explains that shared food is more おいしい delicious than food eaten on one’s own, and when Candy eats her small piece, she is overcome with happiness and realizes that food shared with one’s Amity-group is indeed the most delicious of all food.

In the dream world of the Ball of Neglect, Candy has limitless huge cookies and can eat all she wants; but she remembers her lesson and realizes that no food is as delicious as that shared with love, and that what she really wants is her Amity-group.

With this realization she breaks out of the Ball of Neglect and returns to the terrible reality, where the Precures are lying all but lifeless, defeated by the evil Joker and his hyper-Akanbe.

Overcome with love and distress, Candy’s impassioned and powerless cries suddenly turn into something far from powerless. 伝説の不死鳥. Sorry to lapse into Japanese, but the Japanese name is so lovely: 不Fu (non/un)  死shi (death) 鳥chou (bird) – the Legendary Undying Bird. The Phoenix.

The Legendary Deathless Bird - the power of the resistance of tempation
The Legendary Deathless Bird – the power of the resistance of evil

Little Candy’s resistance of the temptations of evil gives her the power to revive and save her dear Amity-group. The hyper-akanbe is defeated. But Joker is not finished. He entraps four of the five Precures in the Ball of Neglect.

Now the Precures will face the test that Candy faced and we will learn a little more about the philosophical riddle posed by the dream-world of apparent bliss.

Follow the Senshi discussion of the Riddle of the Ball of Neglect here.

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Anime – Just for Children?

I ask for your indulgence for my intrusion on this wonderful site.

I have only recently discovered Anime, and I admit that I was reluctant at first.  I started watching on the recommendation of my friends (the other Senshi on this site).  I thought watching was a good way to re-claim my innocence and nurture my Inner Child.  Once I began watching, I found myself amazed at how deep these shows were on a metaphysical level, and I have been watching with even more interest as an adult.  I have found them extremely valuable in my studies.  

One might ask, what do animated children’s show have to offer in the study of metaphysics?  Should not one learn these important concepts through serious writers such as René Guénon or through books such as The Feminine Universe.  Should we not be studying Plato and Ptolemy to teach us these concepts?  Is that not a better way to learn metaphysics?

Miyuki finding Cinderella BookI am not suggesting replacing adult studies of these subjects with Anime, but I think that Anime provides an important supplement that teaches in a way that more cerebral studies can not.  The difficulty for Western adults is that we have been taught a doctrinally rationalist world view from early childhood.  When we study subjects such as metaphysics and astrology, we tend to do so as Modern Westerners.  We really have as much to unlearn as to learn.  There are basics that we have missed.  In learning these subjects on an adult level, we are trying to learn a language without having learned basic vocabulary and syntax.

Japan (and the East in general) did not go through the movement into rationalism that the  West did.  For a description of these changes, please see the article I wrote (in my civilian identity) here.   Of course, Western thought has found its way into the East and into Japan, but there is not hundreds (and thousands) of years of development of rationalist philosophy as there is in the West.  There are matters treated in these supposed children’s shows that confound even very learned Western scholars.

Primordial CinderellaAn example of this is contained in Episode 39 of Smile Precure.  In this episode, Miyuki-chan (Cure Happy) finds herself in the book which contains the Primordial Cinderella.  This is the Cinderella story from which all Cinderella stories are derived.

Cinderella Mishap Cure Happy (and the other girls) had to preserve the essential elements of the story: the wicked stepmother and stepsisters, the ball, dancing with the Prince, leaving at midnight, the glass slipper, and the glass slipper fitting the foot of Cinderella.  Other details of the story were changed due to interference by the Bad Enders and other mishaps.  The fact that the non-essential details of the story were changed did not cause any difficulties so long as the essential elements were preserved.

Glass SlipperOf course, having an adult understanding of these principles is good and helpful, but I also think that watching these shows helps to really reshape our thinking and to bring these concepts home on a very deep level.   They can help provide us the syntax and grammar that we did not get in a Western education.

So, please forgive me if I have introduced an overly serious element to this site.  It is perfectly good and acceptable to just watch Anime for fun.  For serious students of traditional sciences and metaphysics, however, Anime can also provide good, solid grounding in Traditional and Essentialist philosohy, which are valuable supplements for our studies.

Doki Doki Precure: Selfishness and Harmony

Selfish Crab: Doki Doki Precure Episode 1
Selfish Crab attacks order & harmony

In DokiDoki Precure the primary enemy is selfishness, embodied in a monster called King Jikochu (King Selfish) and its humanoid minions, the Selfish.

Each Precure series has a different enemy based on a different “theme”. Superficially these can be seen as so many arbitrary and colorful story elements, but if we look at them a little more closely we can see that there are in fact important connections between them.

In Suite Precure, the enemy is “Noise”. The fundamental conflict is between harmony and discord. The harmony (and the discord) are expressed musically, but we should note that 和 wa or harmony is a fundamental concept in Japanese life and in traditional metaphysics in general (it is an interesting side-note that the most literal battle between harmony and discord in serious music is one of the very few that have gone to the side of the angels in recent West Tellurian history). Wa is both social harmony and the “music of the spheres” — the harmony of all being.

That selfishness is also an opposite to this kind of harmony is clear enough. Self-centered behavior (literally 自己中 jikochuu 自己 jiko, self, 中 chuu, center) is anathema in Japan precisely because it destroys 和 wa. As it says in the Feminine Scriptures:

When each spoke assays to be the center, the wheel cannot turn.

In Heartcatch Precure the enemies are the Desert Apostles whose aim is to cause the withering of the great Heart Tree by exploiting the weaknesses of people’s individual Heart Flowers. Each individual Heart Flower (everyone has one) is connected to the great Heart Tree, and the health of the Heart Flowers and the Heart Tree are interdependent.

Heartcatch Precure: Great Heart Tree
The Great Heart Tree is linked to every individual heart

Perhaps we begin to see a pattern here! The connection of the individual with the Whole; the importance of wa or harmony; the enemies who seek to disrupt that harmony in the service of discord, selfishness, or a “bad end”.

In Smile Precure the theme is fairy tales, which, as most of us know, carry fundamental truths at their heart. The Happy Ending is precisely the defeat of discord and the restoration of divine Harmony. The enemies seek 最悪の結末 saiaku no ketsumatsu — “the worst possible ending” for the world. They mock friendship, trust, and amity as things they “don’t need” and continually preach against them.

Precure stories are always philosophical debates in this sense. A friend observed that a Magical Girl can rarely attack successfully without first stating the fundamental rightness of her cause. Very often in Precure battles the girls are at first defeated and the rallying point (while often depicted as a pretty new power) is actually heralded by a speech in which the wrongness of the villains’ cynical perspective and the rightness of amity and universal harmony is eloquently expounded.

Often these speeches will center around everyday things — the happiness of a Japanese omatsuri (festival); the reading of fairy tales to small children; food prepared with love and dedication. To some viewers these things may seem trivial or “childish”. In fact they are the everyday ways in which we express and reinforce wa or harmony.

That the villains sneer at these things while the heroines eloquently praise and defend them is a vital expression of the moral and metaphysical conflict that is taking place. That the villains’ point of view is often remarkably close to the cynicism popular in the current West is something most Japanese people are quite unaware of. They tend to believe that the West is a lot healthier than it actually is.

Someone recently said that English has no word for wa because the culture has no wa. While the metaphysical equivalence of social and cosmic harmony to music is profound, it does show a lack in the language that there is only a musical analogy to represent the concept. A member of the Daughters of Shining Harmony once told me that it would have been impossible simply to use “Daughters of Harmony” because it would sound like a vocal quartet, and there really is no word in English to express wa/harmony.

Major Land - Suite Precure
The Land of Harmony from Suite Precure

However that may be, the villains of the Precure series are fundamentally representatives of  fuwa (anti-wa — or in terms of feminine spirituality, athamë) which is essentially discord: the chaos that precedes cosmos in Greek thought, the opposite of the Music of the Spheres, and the principle of disharmony between people, which manifests as the harmony-destroying selfishness. When each spoke assays to be the center, the wheel cannot turn.

The Precures, by contrast, are the forces of wa. Their role is always to restore harmony and to reinstate the True Heart. As Cure Heart herself says in each episode [of course substituting whatever form the Selfish currently takes for “crab”]:

愛をなくした悲しいカニさんこのキュアハートがあなたのドキドキ取りもどしてみせる!

Ai wo nakushita kanashii kani-san kono kyua haato  ga anata no dokidoki torimodoshite miseru!

“Love-bereft, unhappy crab-san, I, Cure Heart will certainly restore your heartbeat.”

“Heartbeat” here is hard to translate. It is dokidoki , which can mean excitement or happiness but also refers to the heartbeat, and as I think must be clear by now, it refers equally to both these things at once — to the restoration of the True Heart as opposed to the isolated, fuwa, selfish heart. The heart has lost love by becoming selfish. Its self-seeking can only lead to unhappiness because it has left the dance of the Universal Music.

The job of the Precure is to restore the true heartbeat, that is at once harmony, happiness, and abundant life, to both the individual and the cosmos.
_____

See also:
The Philosophy of Doki Doki Precure: Overview
Precures, Sailors and Admirals: the Art of Transformation
Magical Girls are for Real

Smile Precure Review

Smile Precure is a lot of fun to watch, and at first glance, seems to be for a rather younger audience than some of the other Precure shows, like Heartcatch Precure and Suite Precure.  This is a bit deceptive though.  Like all of the Precure shows, it is rich in metaphysics and moral wisdom.  It is quite wonderful show to watch for those of us reclaiming our innocence.  candy-in-book

The show starts off with a Middle School transfer student, Hoshizora Miyuki, walking to new school.  On the way to her new school, she meets Candy, who comes flying out of story book at her.   We later learn that Candy is a fairy from Marchenland, which is the land of fairy tales.  We also learn that Miyuki-chan really loves fairy tales, and likes them in particular because they always have happy endings.

This turns into the premise for the show, in that the Forces of Darkness in this show are the Bad Enders, who are trying to turn the world towards a Bad Ending.  It is the job of the Precures to restore the world to a Happy Ending.

Black InkTo a Western cynical mind, this may seem like Smile Precure is “fluffy” and light.  To us here at Musume Senshi, this is a very profound and relevant theme.  To begin with, fairy tales have deep metaphysical meaning and speak to Universal Truth (see The Symbolism of Fairy Tales).  The Happy Endings that are a part of fairy tales do not just speak to the Universal Truth of ultimate reunion with the Divine, but they also speak to what we need to hold on to in order to maintain our innocence.  Happy Endings are real and are inevitable.  The Modern world tries to tell us otherwise.  It tells us that a belief in fairy tales is naive, and that we need to accept a loss of innocence as we grow up. mirror-akanbe

 Interestingly enough, this is just the lie that the Bad Enders in Smile Precure try to get everyone to believe.  The tactic of the Bad Enders is to smear black ink on the blank story book pages.  They then create an Akanbe out of a nearby object.  The word, Akanbe, in Japanese, is a rude face made by children, pulling down their eyes and sticking out their tongues….and this is exactly what the Akanbe look like.  This is also quite symbolic for what the Modern world teaches us to do, deface beautiful things and make rude faces!

When the Bad Ender smears black ink on the story book, all of the people around fall down and become depressed, thinking that there is no point to all of their good efforts.  Isn’t that just what happens when we become cynical.  It is that cynicism that creates the Bad Ending, and is what gives energy to the Forces of Darkness.

cure-beauty-confronts-majorina

In order to defeat the Akanbe, the Precures must first realize the value of the efforts that the Bad Enders are mocking!

smile-precure-snow-white-story-telling

In addition to all of that, Smile Precure is quite bright and happy, with lively happy music at the beginning and end of the show.  This is a wonderful show to watch for us trying to restore our innocence.