From the trailer we can see that the two fairies who featured so prominently in New Stage 2 are present in this one, as is Cure Ace who was absent from the earlier movie (only the original four Doki Dokis were in it).
You can see Aguri-chan at 0:41 and Cure Ace (making her A-sign) at 0:50 (extreme right, second row from the bottom).
I have just watched Precure All Stars New Stage Movie 2. I believe a lot of people may find the All-Stars movies (and perhaps Precure Movies in general, as opposed to the deeper television series) a little disappointing, and I can see why.
It does not go into the metaphysical depth of the series. It is set in a universe that is arguably “non-canonical”, in which all the different Precures from all series exist, and the plot could be called contrived and gratuitous. That is not to say that I was disappointed. Actually, I loved it. I was in tears for part of it and was overwhelmed by the sheer beauty and nobility of the movie.
The “problems” of the movie, I believe, come largely from watching it in the wrong way. Let me give a brief rundown of what seems bad about the plot and why it actually isn’t:
The main villain of the movie seems in a sense wholly gratuitous and disproportionate. It is not some demonic king, but a fairy in fairy-school who becomes dominated his own shadow-self (this isn’t actually a spoiler since you know that pretty much from the start. As the shadow-self becomes stronger, its power becomes immense and threatens all the precures – at first by cunning but ultimately by sheer power, which actually darkens the sky and blots out the sun.
At the end the shadow-self is reduced back to its own small and cute-ish proportions and disappears(spoiler hidden).
…was just this?
It seems unsatisfactory to the Western mind because it seems gratuitous. A cosmic-scale villain is conjured out of nowhere and then sent back to nowhere at the end. Just for the sake of the story, one could say. In fact I would say that but would add that it takes on a different coloring if we understand what stories really are and why humans need them.
The current Western approach to stories is parallel to their approach to the universe. They believe they (it) are there by a kind of accident and could just as easily have been something else. Stories, to the Western mind, are just about individuals and the accidents of earthly life.
Traditional stories are about the fundamental truths of existence. One of those is that the “villain” is not just an accident of plot or history. Ultimately there is only one Big Bad, and that is the Ultimate Darkness. The individual is a microcosm of the manifest world. The darkness in any one of us is ultimately THE darkness.
When we understand this we see that there is nothing gratuitous about that One Darkness being unleashed through a particular individual. In fact Doki Doki Precure with all its depth, tells, on one level, very much the same story. In Doki Doki the one who succumbs to THE darkness is a king. Royalty is often used in traditional tales as the symbol of the individual soul.
There is a terrible evil in the world and it is the duty of all heroines (including ourselves) to fight it
The Heroines of Light – “Are there really so many of us?”
One of the things that I think troubles the Western mind about so many Precure at once (and the claim that they are non-canonical, though to my knowledge nothing in the “canonical” precure series says there aren‘t other Precures – they just aren’t featured) is that it makes them seem less “unique”.
“Are there really that many of us?” say the Doki Doki girls in awe. Of course there are. Each of us is unique but the Great Battle is potentially fought out in every soul. The evil of Doki Doki (King Jikochuu and his minions) is the same evil here – the depictions of sludgey darkness even look the same. It is the same as the Universal Disharmony of Suite Precure and the heart-destroying Desert Apostles of Heartcatch Precure. The theme of a terrible darkness unleashed by personal selfishness or pride or cruelty is found in many of the equally heart-stirring Anpanman movies (as opposed to the Television shows). The depiction of sludgey darkness is often the same.
In the end all true stories are branches of the same story. The true traditional storyteller is less concerned with telling an original story than with telling the Original Story.
But saying the “faults” of the plot are not faults hardly makes the experience better if we do not enjoy the show, one may say. And I agree. But I think if one sees stories for what they always were, and still are in many Japanese productions, those faults cease to matter to our hearts.
What does matter is whether the show stirs our hearts. And in my case at least, it does. The wonderful nobility of the precures. The kindness and gentleness coupled with the fierce determination to ganbaru and akeramenai – fight on despite everything and never give up – is soul-thrilling.
The audience members are given Precure Lights to cheer on the heroines when the going gets really tough. The fairies all have their lights too, and the brave, massed cheers of “Precure ganbare!” are stirring to the depths of the soul. I want to be in a theatre in Japan one day, waving my light and shouting “ganbare” – a word so deeply rooted in every single day of Japanese culture that it is hard to translate.
A lot of people will say they are too old for this. Maybe the cynical culture of the West has outgrown simple goodness. I would say that there is a word for the state of a culture that has outgrown goodness. That word is senility.
As Doki Doki Precure nears its conclusion, the series is dealing with questions not only concerning the more mysterious characters but also the fundamental questions of human existence. It always has been, of course, but now its deeper levels are becoming more explicit.
Spoiler alert: This article contains BIG spoilers for Doki Doki Precure.
Is Cure Ace the Princess. Could it be Regina? As some suspected, it is both. And what about the mysterious baby, Ai-chan? Well, she is the Princess too!
In this episode we learn exactly what happened in the Trump Kingdom to bring about the present situation. At the beginning of this story, Princess Marie Ange is born and her mother dies at the same time. The King is both happy and distraught. The Princess grows up happy and healthy but when she reaches “the full stature of maidenhood” succumbs to a mysterious disease.
Nothing is said about this disease, but visually we are shown that it was a drop of the living black Darkness that dwells in the bowels of the palace. Why should it be there? It makes sense when we understand that a house or a palace is traditionally a microcosm of the world, and also of the individual soul. In this world of imperfection and conflict, darkness always lurks and challenges us at various points. As the disease grips her at her writing desk, the ink-bottle is overturned and black ink spreads symbolically over the desk’s surface.
The King is told that the mysterious disease is beyond the limits of medicine and becomes both desperate and angry, raging against Heaven.
O God, weren’t you satisfied with just my wife, that you snatch away my daughter too?
I won’t allow such a thing!
He is told that there is only one method of saving his daughter’s life, and that is to use one of the three Sacred Treasures: the Eternal Golden Crown which confers all knowledge. However, the Golden Crown has been used by the Legendary Precure Warriors to seal away the Darkness. Taking it would unleash darkness on the now peaceful and happy Trump kingdom.
The king goes to the chamber where the crown seals the darkness, and has a soliloquy in which he weighs the two evils – the death of his beloved daughter, the light-bestowing Princess and the unleashing of darkness.
After an inward struggle, the candles are symbolically extinguished by a draft and the King’s heart succumbs to the stain of selfishness. He cries:
If only Ange is saved, what happens to the world doesn’t matter!
He breaks the seal, takes the Eternal Golden Crown and the Princess becomes well again. But the terrible darkness rises up from its place of captivity and overwhelms the King.
For the sake of saving your dearly beloved daughter you break a taboo that leads the world to ruin. This is the ultimate selfishness. A wretch like you is perfectly suited to be my vessel.
From this moment the King is possessed. He is transformed into a monstrous being a hundred times the size of a man: King Jikochuu (selfishness).
The Princess, using another of the Three Sacred Treasures – the Miracle Dragon Glaive defeats King Jikochuu and encases him in stone. However, it is too late to save the Trump Kingdom which has already been overrun by the unleashed Forces of Darkness. The Princess is taunted by Bel for not finishing off the King. He accuses her of selfishness, leaving the entire Kingdom in the grip of darkness because she will not kill her father.
Bel is the Dark King’s general, and his aim is to unleash the full darkness of the Princess in order to turn her into a jikochuu.
The Princess, like the King before her, struggles between love and duty, and sees her heart begin to be darkened with selfishness. She breaks her heart in two and sends the two halves forth to battle it out, asking forgiveness for her weakness in not making a decision.
The dark half becomes Regina, who gravitates to King Jikochuu, and the light half becomes Madoka Aguri, (Cure Ace) who is “adopted” by a highly-traditional elderly Japanese lady.
Meanwhile the Princess reverts to an egg, and is reborn as the baby Ai-chan.
At the end of the Episode, King Jikochu is released (in the present) from his stone imprisonment. The girls speak of somehow re-integrating Regina and Aguri, but Regina speaks of her father’s love in sacrificing everything to save her and says she will always fight for him. King Jikochuu invades the human world and Regina, armed with the Miracle Dragon Glaive, accompanies him.
The other girls transform into their Precure forms, resolving to stop them.
I apologize for retelling the story at length, but the details are important. This story has two main themes – the struggle between love and duty (a classic theme of tales throughout the world before duty was deemed unimportant) and the battle between light and darkness.
Now the conflict between love and duty is particularly complex here because duty is another form of love. Throughout the series, the opposite of Jikochuu (selfishness) has been Ai (love). Cure Ace herself is called “Ai no kirifuda” (love’s trump card). So we are seeing individual love posed against the love of the world. The love of the world is expressed often in Japanese Anime and usually in very similar words. The Anpanman song speaks of Anpanman’s mission as being みんなの夢まもるため for the sake of protecting everyone’s dreams. Cure Ace speaks of protecting everyone’s smiles. The King says of the baby Princess as shining light like the sun:
Granting the hopes and wishes of the people.
The problem here is that everyone has some darkness in her (we are all selfish to a certain degree, unless we are Enlightened Beings) and the dark can be very cunning at manipulating people – it can use love against love.
As we saw the very sickness which started this chain of events was caused by a small, escaped part of the Darkness. By threatening the Princess’s life, that one escaped piece of darkness was able to trick the King into releasing the whole army of darkness, and becoming himself the vessel for its leader.
Just as the good in us is ultimately one with the True Good, so the evil or selfishness in us is ultimatley part of the very Darkness. Not only the world, but each soul, is a battleground in the war between Light and Darkness.
While our individual personalities are important and the choices we make are of utmost importance, this amazing show is not ultimately about individuals and “character development” but about something much deeper, that in traditional thought is the real meaning of individual life and character.
Some people have supposed that the conflict between Light and Dark in Doki Doki Precure is simplistic, but I think we can see from the story above that it is very far from simplistic. The King’s dilemma was very real, as was the Princess’s. Their choices were by no means simple ones. The King made the wrong one and was consumed by Jikochuu. The Princess refused to decide at all and separated herself into two parts. Those two parts exist in all of us, called the False Self and the True Self.
Mana loves Regina but in the end is forced to fight her to protect the world. Cure Ace believes she must destroy Regina and King Jikochuu in order to restore the Trump Kingdom. Yet, in the end, all souls must return to the Light, in the words of Kannon-sama’s vow, “Even to the last blade of grass”.
How will all this resolve itself? We will see very soon. But we have the rare (certainly by Western standards virtually non-existent) privilege of seeing a story that deals not just with the superficialities of human life but with the fundamental questions of our existence.
I finally saw episode 45 of DokiDoki Precure, and it was VERY exciting. I have to admit I was a little naughty. It took a while for the English subtitles to come out, and I got a little grumpy waiting. I had to remember what Cure Dolly taught us about being grateful for things and not complaining. It is really wonderful for us that there are people who translate Precure and give us subtitles, so that those of us who do not speak Japanese well enough can still watch. I did watch it raw while I was waiting for the subtitles, but I really did not understand much.
Anyways, it turns out that Cure Ace and Regina-san ARE the Light and Dark sides of the Princess! In Deanic/Filianic thealogy, we would call them the True and False Selves of the Princess. I have noticed that this a rather common theme in Precure. In Heartcatch Precure, Cure Moonlight had to battle Dark Precure, who was created by her father from her substance, specifically to be her enemy. In addition, all of the girls had to do battle with their False Selves as a test before they could level up to be strong enough to face Dune. In Smile Precure, there was an episode where the girls had to battle Dark versions of themselves as well.
Even though this is a common theme in Precure, in DokiDoki, there are some interesting twists. One of the twists was that the other Minions of Darkness were standing on the sidelines, and they were perfectly willing to attack Regina-san to steal the Dragon Glaive, even though she was supposedly on the same side as them. The Dark is not very good at being loyal to its own, it seems.
Another interesting twist is that Regina-san does not seem completely Dark. In Heartcatch Precure, we could feel some sympathy for Dark Precure, but she was still Dark. Yet, Regina-san has her moments of being Light, and Mana-chan/Cure Heart has been working hard to try to redeem her. Also, Cure Ace seems to think that she is supposed to annihilate Regina-san; however, Cure Heart protected Regina-san. I have a strong suspicion that it is a lot more complicated than that. I wonder if Cure Ace needs to embrace and love Regina-san. That has happened before in Precure as well.
I wonder what is going to happen next. It looks like there will not be a new episode this week, but the next episode will be a week from now. It seems from the previews that we are going to learn what happened to Trump Kingdom.
Puzzle and Dragons (or Pazudora as it is affectionately known) is a huge phenomenon in Japan on smartphones and the like. It is now being released on the 3DS and a very substantial playable demo is available on the Japanese eShop.
It costs ¥4,000 which actually is likely to work out considerably cheaper than the “free” phone version, which charges for in-game stamina and apparently soon adds up to pretty expensive. The game has been an enormous financial success.
I have been playing the 3DS demo of Puzzle and Dragons and I am very impressed.
At first sight it is somewhat akin to the excellent Puzzle Quest, in that it is an RPG in which combat takes the form of a Bejewelled-style game played on the lower touch-screen, in which different colored gems represent different elemental powers.
However, Puzzle and Dragons is a much more graphically-oriented game with lots of character interaction. The “dungeons” (actually often open air settings, though they are called “dungeons”) are graphically lovely with wonderful scenic depth fully utilizing the machine’s 3D.
It is also a lot cuter. While the storyline is quite serious, focussing on an evil force invading the world, it isn’t long into the story before a “rabbit” drops out of the sky. The “rabbit” is actually a dragon (but as cute as a rabbit) who plays an important part in the story, a little reminiscent of Precure’s fairies. In general enemies are cute, characters are cute, and despite a serious storyline you can’t go far without encountering something cute.
Now, since you will only be downloading this if you have a Japanese 3DS you may be wondering what the language level is like.
All the kanji have furigana, so you can easily look up unknown words. The dialog is reasonably simple and I find it a lot easier to follow than Pokemon, largely because in Pokemon a lot of interaction is with NPCs who say random and often quite odd things, whereas in Puzzle and Dragons the dialog is mostly furthering the storyline, the characters say things you might expect them to say, and generally it is much easier to follow.
Definitely download the demo if you have a Japanese 3DS. This is a graphical treat with fun characters, an engaging storyline, excellent gameplay, and good, understandable Japanese practice.
If you enjoy the lengthy demo, you may well want to buy the full game. You will be paying to own it outright rather than being nickel-and-dimed in perpetuity, and the gorgeous 3D alone makes it worthwhile to have this version.
And it’s an excellent chance to find out why Puzzle and Dragons is such a huge phenomenon in Japan.
DokiDoki Precure is really getting exciting, isn’t it? I have just seen episode 40. The girls have just tried to retrieve the Spear of Light and rescue Regina-san, but have failed. She would not go along with them. Isn’t it interesting, though? Regina-san is the only one who could move the Spear of Light, one of the three Sacred Treasures.
In episode 30, the girls recover one of the Sacred Treasures, the Crystal Mirror. In episode 31, the Minions of the Selfish Kingdom break the Crystal Mirror. (I still shudder with anger at that scene, by the way.) The girls keep fighting, and the five broken pieces become the Lovely Pad, which allows the girls to combine their powers.
In episode 39, we learn that the Spear of Light is hidden in the Selfish Kingdom’s headquarters. It was stolen from the Princess of Trump Kingdom, who is still frozen. When the girls try to recover it, they are unable to move it. To everyone’s surprise, Regina-san was able to move it, and the Spear became Dark. Cure Heart tries to reach Regina-san with her words and her feelings, but it does not work.
At the start of episode 40, the girls are in disagreement as to whether it is possible to reach Regina-san with love. Aguri-chan says it is impossible, that she is King Selfish’s daughter and there is no love in her heart. Mana-chan disagrees, and says that Regina-san loves her father, (see episode 22); therefore, she must have love in her heart.
Makoto-chan takes this to heart, and decides to write a song to reach her. Soon, the rest of the girls join in to assist. At the same time, Regina-san also decides to enter the battleground of song. King Selfish has told her to go take over the world. Regina-san tells him that humans are resilient, and they must weaken them first. Regina-san decides that the way to weaken them is to steal their songs.
Songs are now the battlefield. Why is that, and why are songs so powerful? This past summer, Cure Tadashiku explained this to us in the article, Selfishness and Harmony. Tadashiku-san taught us about the Japanese word, wa, which means harmony. Wa is the harmony of music, but it is also the harmony of the heavens and the harmony of social relationships. A previous series, Suite Precure, explored the the concept of wa in great depth. In Suite Precure, we are shown that love is fundamental to harmony; Queen Aphrodite (Venus) is the Queen of Major Land. In DokiDoki Precure, we are shown that harmony is fundamental to love.
As I was watching, I was very glad that, in episode 24, Makoto-chan made the decision to keep singing even after they found the Princess frozen. Isn’t it exciting how all of the pieces are starting to come together? I remember in that episode, Aguri-chan said that Makoto-chan’s songs would save the world, and now she is singing a song to directly fight a battle against the Selfish Kingdom. This battle is for the heart of Regina-san and for the Spear of Light!
In the heat of the next battle, Makoto-chan sings her song. It allows her to free herself from the clutches of the Selfishness that Regina-san created and to power up. She does start to reach Regina-san, and Regina-san feels her heart ache again, as it did before, when Mana-chan’s love brought her around for a short while. Although Regina-san gets away before the song can completely touch her, we know now that there is hope.
I wonder what will happen next? Is Regina-san the Princess? What about Ai-chan? Remember, we learned in episode 34 and episode 38, that Ai-chan’s upbringing will determine whether she will be loving or selfish and that will determine the fate of the ultimate battle with the Selfish Kingdom. What about Aguri-chan/Cure Ace? Why does she have nostalgic feelings with respect to the Princess and Trump Kingdom?
Last week, Cure Kiyoku wrote about episode 37 of DokiDoki Precure, which explored the importance of appreciation for vegetables. This lesson was very much in line with what we have learned about the importance of vegetables from Cure Dolly. In Cure Dolly’s previous article, she also taught us about the Japanese virtue of enryo, or self-restraint. Interestingly enough, the next episode of DokiDoki Precure, episode 38, is about enryo.
At the beginning of the episode, we see that Ai-chan is doing very well. She is learning to be a very good girl. She is throwing less and less tantrums. We also see that being a good girl means practicing enryo. Ai-chan is told that she can not eat too much or drink too much. She accepts that without complaining, and because she is good, she gets the reward of playing with a drum.
Of course, the villains have to try to spoil all of this, and they kidnap Ai-chan to try to turn her into a Selfishness. To do this, they give Ai-chan anything she wants, whenever she wants it. They give her as much to eat and drink as she wants, and they let her do anything she wants without restraint!
For a time, this works. Ai-chan does become a Selfishness for a time. This is very much like the temptation faced by Candy-chan in Smile Precure. You can read about it in Cure Dolly’s article, The Philosophical Riddle of the Ball of Neglect. In DokiDoki Precure, this temptation is even more virulent. Ai-chan starts to become rather nasty. She throws temper tantrums and even becomes a bit violent.
In Smile Precure, Candy-chan is able to resist the temptation by remembering a lesson from Miyuki-chan regarding the pleasures of shared treats. In DokiDoki Precure, it is Cure Heart that rescues Ai-chan. She is able to rescue her with love. She tells Ai-chan how much she loves her, and how happy Ai-chan makes all of the girls. She reminds Ai-chan of the fun that they have all had together.
In the modern world, this would seem to be a poor antidote for being able to have everything one wants whenever she wants it, yet, this frees Ai-chan from the Selfish Kingdom and restores her heart!
It seems that love and enryo are very much intertwined.
Oh yes, from the previews it looks like Regina-san is back. I am quite interested in seeing what will happen next.
I have to admit that the last episode of DokiDoki Precure, episode 37, touched on one of my faults. See, I am a bit of a finicky eater. I do not mean to be. It is just that there are a lot of things I dislike.
One of the things I have learned from Cure Dolly is that it seems that in Japan, being a finicky eater is not a good thing. Cure Dolly was very brave when she was in Japan, eating raw egg and natto. Cure Dolly also showed us a movie that teaches us how important vegetables are here.
In DokiDoki Precure, episode 37, Ai-chan will not eat carrots. We have learned in previous episodes that it is dreftly important that Ai-chan continue to be a sweet baby, and not turn into a selfish one. If Ai-chan turns selfish, the powers of Evil will get stronger, and she will lose her protections. It seems that being a finicky eater is a way she can turn selfish <deep blush>.
Well also find out that Aguri-chan is also a finicky eater, or at least she does not like carrots either. As Cure Ace, she has to learn to eat carrots in order to defeat the Selfishness, and to set a good example for Ai-chan. Cure Ace is able to do so after learning about and thinking about the love of the people growing and cooking the carrots. She conquers her dislike of carrots and learns to love carrots too.
I do not know that this will inspire me to get over some of my finicky-ness, but is it something to think about.
Oh yes, by the way, did you see the previews for next week? It looks like Regina-san may be back. Oh yes, I wonder if my theory about Cure Ace will turn out to be correct. It is getting quite exciting, isn’t it?
Nice to meet you. I’m Cure Ocha, and while I’ve commented in the past, this is my very first post here. Please be gentle, and I hope you enjoy it!
Lolita is a Japanese fashion we all know, and we approve of how beautiful and feminine it is. However, for many of us, wearing lolita would be impractical or, since it is usually constrained to one very distinctive silhouette, even unflattering. What has me really excited is another Japanese fashion that still keeps to the principles of femininity, elegance, and cuteness, but allows for a little more variation in silhouette and ease of wear. That fashion is otome kei, less known in the West than lolita but quickly increasing in popularity.
Otome literally means maiden, and it is meant to make one look like a real maiden – lovely and innocent. Some of it looks rather close to lolita, and in fact the line between the two can get a little blurry.
The main difference that can be easily quantified is the lack of a bell-shaped petticoat. However, otome kei can actually look very different from lolita.
Can you stand the little gloves? I can’t.
The really exciting thing to me is that otome is so elegant and so lovely and yet it tends to be soft and easy to wear – it seems like a natural philosophical outgrowth of the fashion of the 1950s rather than a radical departure. In fact, these two girls wouldn’t be at all out of place standing next to each other.
For those of you who would like a little history, otome started, as far as we can tell, in the 1970s. In fact, a number of the brands that are currently famous for lolita, such as Angelic Pretty, started by selling otome clothing. Lolita didn’t start really being lolita until the late 1990s. That’s why the line between the two fashions gets blurry. In the old Gothic and Lolita Bibles, you can see plenty of street snapshots where lolis were just wearing whatever nice clothes they had that happened to be pinkest.
When I look at lolita I see a whole world to itself made of intricate loveliness. When I look at otome I say, “Well, that’s what the West should have done next!”