Tag Archives: moral ambiguity

Happiness Charge Precure: A Lesson in Analyzing Media

I have to admit that I am a bit disappointed with Happiness Charge Precure.  I have just finished episode 7.  I am using the series as part of my Japanese studies, which means that I need to take a lot more time with each episode than I otherwise might.  I really had high hopes for the series, particularly as the last four series, Heartcatch, Suite, Smile, and DokiDoki just kept getting better and better!

On the other hand, I think that this series might be instructive for our readers to understand how we analyze media here at Musume Senshi.  We have been so enthusiastic in our praise of Precure, it might be helpful to discuss one of the series that we are not as impressed by in order to show our readers what we are looking for in media.  In that spirit, below is my analysis of Happiness Charge Precure after watching the first seven episodes:

Metaphysical “Rightness”

Before I begin this section, please note, that if we were discussing any Western media, this question would not even arise.  Here at Senshi, we can not recommend any Western media produced later than the 1960’s, except perhaps some of the movies produced by Disney.  Sadly, we can not even recommend the more recent Disney movies, which have slid into the cynicism of the post-Modern West.  Yet, even the best Western shows produced prior to the 1960’s are still rationalist in their outlook, and therefore, do not have much in the way of richness of metaphysical truth.  So, the fact that I can even discuss whether Happiness Charge Precure is metaphysically “right” speaks to the high quality of the larger series.

After watching episode 7, I admit I am not sure how this series will fare.  So far, I do not really see where the series is going with respect to metaphysical truth.  In contrast, in the four previous series, the metaphysical themes were present from the very beginning.   Cure Dolly discusses this at length in her article, Happiness Charge Precure Review – is it as good as the others.

It is possible that the theme will be develop over time, and that it is more actually more subtle than the previous seasons.  As of episode 7, it seems like the story may be developing into the traditional tale of the Wagamama (“selfish, spoiled”) Princess, which could be quite deep and could explain the surface visual attractiveness of the Side of Evil.

Going outside in pajamas is DAME!
Going outside in pajamas is DAME!

Innocence

For the most part, this series still promotes innocence, I think, and values such as friendship and harmony.  On the other hand, there are a few trouble spots, which may or may not be minor depending on how the series develops.  The theme of clothing and of the importance of clothing is of particular interest to us here at Senshi.   Hime-chan’s instruction of Megumi-chan regarding clothing is quite important.  Some examples have been Hime-chan’s statement in episode 3 that wearing pajamas outside was “dame.”  I found that particularly good and important as, where I live, I often see people wearing clothing that looks like pajamas.  I also liked when Hime-chan explained to Megumi-chan that wearing a jersey to the party made the party less special in episode 7.

vlcsnap-2014-04-05-15h26m08s110Of greater interest are the “magic clothes” that transform the girls into particular Functions, such as Policemaid or Nurse.   Aside from being a lot of fun, this really illustrates the importance of dress and clothing.  See The Philosophy of Dress.

At the same time, there are some dubious clothing choices even with the “magic clothes.”  In all of the various Precure series, the clothing of the girls has been one of the weakest elements in the series.  While, here on Senshi, we have overlooked this flaw because of the overall goodness of the show, this weakness becomes a larger problem when clothing is one of the main themes of the series.

vlcsnap-2014-04-05-15h36m37s67
A step up from pajamas….I suppose…

Poisonous Elements

Another important part of any media analysis on Senshi is the determination of whether there are any poisonous elements to be cautious of or to be avoided completely.  So far, in the case of Happiness Charge Precure, there is nothing so poisonous as to avoid watching the show entirely, but, I think that there are a few points to be careful of.

vlcsnap-2014-04-05-15h29m30s177The biggest concern in this direction is the visual attractiveness of the Phantom Empire and the effects of the Saiaku.  There could be a good reason for this, which we may discover later, but, I think that this is still quite tricky.  In all of the previous series I have seen Good and Evil are quite clear.  Evil LOOKS like Evil!  This is very important.  Here on Senshi, we do not believe in “moral ambiguity.”  Good is Good, and Evil is Evil.  Axial Beings may experience difficult temptations…but Good and Evil is clear.  See DokiDoki Finale:  Love is Not a Crime and DokiDoki Precure 46: The Fundamental Questions of Existence.  It is possible that the visual attractiveness of Evil in Happiness Charge Precure is truly an illusion, and that its ugliness will be revealed later, but this is a real concern.

vlcsnap-2014-03-11-12h19m50s127Another concern is one of Cure Lovely’s attacks, which is a dance using deracinated clothing and music.  While all of the Precure series have had some questionable clothing and music choices, it becomes a much more serious matter when they are part of a purification attack against Evil.   Also, even though I very much LOVE Cure Princess’ Macadamia Hulu Dance, where the Evil Minions are brought into harmony and dance along, generally when Evil is brought into harmony, it becomes Good.  In this case, the harmony is a mere distraction to help defeat the Evil Minions with another attack.

Despite these criticisms, Happiness Charge is still a fun show, and as of yet, the problems are not so great as to suggest that the show be avoided.  On the other hand, it seemed good and important to explain what we look for in the media we suggest and recommend here on Musume Senshi.

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