Tag Archives: Precure All Stars

Precure All-Stars – the Greatest Story Ever Retold

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 world-devouring villain
The world-devouring villain…

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?
…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?"
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.

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The Curse Monster

I started watching the very first Pretty Cure series, or more accurately, I started watching it again.  See, I watched the first two episodes a few months back, and then I was curious about the name of the monsters.  I remembered that in Smile Precure, the name for the monsters, Akanbe, meant a rude face that is sometimes made by children.

I was quite shocked and surprised that the name for the monster in the first Pretty Cure series was a bad word in Japanese, a REALLY BAD WORD!  I will not repeat it, because it is a bad word.  I stopped watching the series because of it, and I went back to watching the later series, Heartcatch, Suite, Smile, and DokiDoki.

Last week, though, there was no DokiDoki Precure, and instead, the lastest All Stars Precure movie was aired.  Even though it was first aired a year ago, I had not seen that movie, so I decided to watch it.  It was really good, but really scary.  I found Fu-chan a bit creepy, but I am glad that it all worked out in the end.

Oh dear, I am going off on a tangent.  In Precure All Stars, you get to see all the Precures from all seasons, even though it seems that it is the most recent two sets of girls that are featured.  Most of the series involved the girls from Smile Precure and Suite Precure, which was fun.  Still, we did get to see all of the girls, all the way back to Cure Black, Cure White, and Cure Luminous from the first Pretty Cure.  So, I got curious.

vacuum-cleaner-monsterI started watching it again, and I think I can manage it if I think of the monsters as Curse Monsters, rather than their names.  I really do not know Japanese well at all, only a few words here and there, so it does not bother me as much as it would if it was an English curse word.  If you can get past the fact that the word is used, though, it really makes for an interesting moral and metaphysical statement.

In the world today, people seem to use curse words like they are just normal words.  It is strange.  Even nice people swear; even grandmothers swear nowadays.  People just seem to think it means nothing at all.  In Pretty Cure though, the Curse Monsters are really nasty, and they do a lot of damage.  I just finished watching episode 2, and the villain made a Curse Monster out of a vacuum cleaner.  The Curse Monster just sucked up all of the energy in the city to feed the side of Evil.  That seemed symbolic to me, and it is often how I feel when people are swearing around me.  It feels like all of the energy is being sucked up in the Aethyr to feed the side of Evil!

I did like something else though.  When the Pretty Cures purify the Curse Monsters, they stop saying the bad word, and instead say, “Gomenna,” which I think is an apology!  I like that the Curse Monsters apologize as they are being purified.  That seems very right too.

So, I guess I am going to keep watching the first Pretty Cure.  It is the only series that seems to be available on Hulu Plus, which I can get on my regular television.  That is rather convenient.  It is too bad that none of the others are available that way though.  Maybe someday!

See also:

Magic Girls are For Real

Pleasant Speech

The Image Sphere

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Cure Dolly commented on my post, and I guess that I misunderstood.  I am a bit embarrassed that I had my information wrong, but maybe this is something good to have cleared up on the Internet somewhere.  Here is Cure Dolly’s response:

I think we need to clarify this, because there is a huge amount of disinformation on this subject on the Web. It is as if West Tellurians have a visceral need for everyone to have taboo words just like theirs. The idea that they don’t seems to worry them almost as deeply as questioning their Darwinist Creation Myth. No doubt this is a psychological reflection on the importance of verbal pollution to a decayed culture (and how it isn’t actually as casual as it sounds, but is a sort of inverted need), but it would take us too far afield to go into that right now.

So to get to the point:

The name of the monster in Futari wa Precure is ざっけなよ zakkenayo. It does not mean or remotely imply any bodily act or function, despite what a lot of people on the Internet confidently and stridently declare. Their declarations say more about them and the state of their culture than about the word.

Zakkenayo is actually a slangy contraction of ふざけるなよ fuzakeru na yo. Fuzakeru means to clown around, josh, fool about etc. Using the plain dictionary form with “na” is a rather rough, masculine way of saying “don’t” and yo is an emphasizer. So essentially a very abrupt way of telling someone to stop playing the fool, perhaps equivalent to “You! Quit clowning!”

Now this is very offensive and does break a taboo, because the Japanese are civilized people and this is not the way you should ever talk to anyone. If you do it will cause deep offense. In that sense only it could be compared to West Tellurian body-language (to coin a phrase). But the comparison is much more confusing than helpful, and the bald and confident (why are West Tellurians at their most confident when they have no idea what they are talking about?) statement that it refers to a bodily function or is a “taboo word” in the West Tellurian curse sense is just false.

It is clearly a word intended to show the fuwa or athamë (rejection of proper Harmony or Order) of the monster. This in itself is untranslatable, because in the West Tellurian mind the very concept of wa or thamë (proper harmony) no longer exists.