I have enjoyed playing video games for a long, long time. Sometimes almost too much, I am afraid. One of the interesting things I have learned is that most of the video games that I have liked over the years come from Japan. One of the games that I really like is Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies for the Nintendo DS. This games has a number of wonderful features for us here at Senshi. Aside from being an exciting adventure story game, it allows you to have an all girl team and to play dress up with one’s armor and equipment. The armor and equipment shows in game play, so there are times when one has to choose between fashion and good statistics, which is often a difficult choice!
Among many interesting things in this game are subplots that form the basis for a large part of the beginning of the game. As part of the main plot, fyggs or fruits from a Celestrial Tree fall down below to the terrestrial plane. These fyggs purport to be able to grant the desires of people that eat the fygg, Yet, the granting of the desires turns out to be quite problematic. The fygg turns the person into a monster, that as the heroine, one must defeat. After the monster is defeated, we find that the original person was usually quite ordinary, with ordinary faults and failings. These made for quite interesting and often moving subplots to the game.
Those of us who have been watching DokiDoki Precure will likely recognize this theme. The villains from the Selfish Kingdom “grant the wish” of their victims by turning their heart black, stealing their hearts, and using these dark hearts to create a monster that creates havoc until the Precures come to defeat the Selfishness and return the cleansed hearts to the victims.
So, what is wrong with one’s wishes being granted? That is a good question, and I think that the answer is a bit complex. I think that one of the points in both the game and in DokiDoki Precure is that victims wishes are not really being granted. I think that maybe the best way to explain is that these are the wishes of their False Self, or the part that we all have inside that is not aligned with Good, like the popular Western motif of the little devil on our shoulder. Our True Self is that which is aligned with the little angel on our shoulder. As you recall, in DokiDoki, the victim often resists the urge that the villain eventually uses to steal their hearts.
I think that there is an assumption in both Dragon Quest IX and in DokiDoki Precure, that most of us truly wish to be good, and that this wish trumps any self centered desires that we may have. As the Dragon Quest game proceeds into the larger story line, we find that the fyggs are actually…oh oops…spoilers. Well, I can say that the fyggs themselves are not evil either, and the wishes of the victims are not evil wishes, they were just corrupted. In fact, we find out later in the game that fyggs are actually fruits from the Divine in Her Daughter form. In the Dragon Quest game, after the victim of the corruption is purified, the energy from her wishes are also purified, and the entire town or village benefits.
As I am writing, I am having a really hard time being able to put into words the difference between the corrupt wishes and the purified wishes. Even if I were to give spoilers and specifics, it would be hard. I think I am realizing that it is because these concepts do not translate well into English. I have started learning Japanese as well, but my studies have been cursory and quite basic, unlike the other authors of this site. I was taught a Japanese term that may explain this somewhat. There is a Japanese word wa that roughly translates to “harmony.” I say roughly because harmony in English mostly refers to music, but there is a deeper harmony of life, society, and the cosmos that is reflected in earthly music (or it should be). The term wa refers to this deeper harmony. The opposite of wa is fuwa, or disharmony.
This may seem like an aside, but it really is not. I have noticed that I have not necessarily got as involved in DokiDoki Precure as the other authors of this site. I think I know the reason why. It is because I need to watch it with English subtitles. I have found that the DokiDoki dialogue seems rather strange and awkward in English. In talking with Cure Dolly, who watches DokiDoki Precure with Japanese subtitles, she has mentioned that she could imagine how difficult it would be for the translators.
One of the things that she explained was about the Selfish Kingdom and the monsters, “Selfishnesses.” If I understand correctly, selfish is not really the precise term, but there is no equivalent in Japanese. From what I have been told, in Japanese culture, there is an expectation that people will think of the group and community first, and to do otherwise is considered quite rude. For example, it is my understanding that a statement that seems positive to a Western mind, “Do what you want to do,” is considered quite insulting in Japanese culture. The closest translation to this concept is selfish, from what I have been told.
This takes me back to the premise of this article. I think that in DokiDoki Precure and in DragonQuest IX, it is not the wishes themselves that are problematic. We should have dreams and wishes. What is problematic is when these wishes only relate to one’s own personal well-being without considering the group or the society. When the wishes become fuwa, or they are granted in a way that is fuwa. This actually prevents the wishes from being realized in a way that is wa, or in harmony with the group, society, and with the Music of the Spheres.
I have not finished the game DragonQuest IX, but it is getting quite interesting in a metaphysical sense as the story is progressing. DokiDoki Precure is also getting quite interesting. For example, it seems that Regina-san can turn people’s heart’s black without their specifically opening the door with “selfish” thoughts. I wonder how that is possible.
So, I will leave these thoughts as they are at the moment, but there may be more as I get through the game, and as the DokiDoki Precure series progresses.