With Smile PreCure inching ever closer to its grand finale, Toei Animation is looking ahead to next year and making preparations to add its next Pretty Cure series to the franchise. The studio trademarked the title Doki Doki! PreCure back in October, and only recently released a promotional advertisement for their new show.
Based on a snippet from promotional material from TV Asahi, the broadcasting station that airs PreCure, Doki Doki’s story centers around the main character (presumably the pink cure shown above), Aida Mana, who awakens as a Pretty Cure with the help of a fairy named Sharuru. She gives herself the moniker Cure Heart and fights against the villains known as the Selfish, who seek to manipulate the hearts of others.
Like HeartCatch PreCure’s theme involving heart flowers (in which everyone has a unique heart flower that reflects who they are as individuals), Doki Doki tackles the idea of feelings within one’s heart, which are dynamic and affected by the hearts of others. There’s a running conflict between selfishness and selflessness, the former represented by the antagonists, and the latter being a distinctive personality trait of Mana Aida, the new heroine. The concept of “manipulating hearts” is fundamentally different from the brand of antagonism shown by the Desert Messengers in HeartCatch, such that the villains in HeartCatch don’t aim to directly change the way a victim feels in their heart, but rather exploit existing negative feelings to make their heart flower “wilt.” Doki Doki villains are probably going to attack positive feelings and turn them into negative ones.
Doki Doki! PreCure’s similarities are not just limited to HeartCatch; there are plenty of other aspects from other franchises that are returning to play in this iteration. Firstly, the mascot-transformation item is making a return from the days of Futari wa Pretty Cure and Futari wa Pretty Cure Splash Star. This system doubles a mascot character with the item that a girl uses to transform into Pretty Cure, meaning that each girl is directly associated with a particular mascot/item. In this case, the item itself takes the form of a phone-like device, much like that of Yes 5 and Fresh’s trinkets.
In addition to the individual mascot sidekicks, there’s a central infantile mascot character, probably similar to that of Chiffon from Fresh Pretty Cure. There’s no confirmation as to whether or not this particular mascot will act like an infant like Chiffon did in Fresh, but the promotional description hints that this character’s appearance will bring about plenty of hijinx similar to that of Fresh, and if history looks to repeate itself, expect the fate of the world to heavily tie to him or her.
Possibly most notable from this poster is the confirmation of a 4-girl cast of cure, at least initially. There were rumors running wild that Doki Doki would return to the “traditional ways” of the 2-girl cast, even speculating that the 2-girl cast would be twins. This 4-girl confirmation is an instant debunk of this particular rumor, though there’s always potential to add more precure haflway through. Just ask Suite and Fresh, who started off with two and three cure, respectively. In the case of Suite, rumors of the additional precure turned out to be way off the mark after the new cures were revealed in the series.
The names of the main characters in next year’s PreCure are as follows:
Mana Aida -> Cure Heart
Makoto Kenzaki -> Cure Sword
Alice Yotsuba -> Cure Rosetta
Rikka Hishikawa -> Cure Diamond
The names of the PreCure members in this iteration take on the playing cards motif, with each cure named each suit in a deck of cards. While Heart and Diamond’s references are straightforward, Cure Sword refers to spades, and Rosetta referring to clubs (Cure Rosetta’s family name, Yotsuba, also means clover). While playing card naming theme is tied to the main series through Cure Heart, the visual motif of card suits is a revisit to one of Fresh PreCure’s visual motifs, where Love Momozono/Cure Peach’s cure stick traces out a heart during its attack animation, Miki Aono/Cure Berry with spades, and Inori Yamabuki/Cure Pine with diamonds; their combination attack with the 4th pretty cure, Setsuna/Cure Passion, utilizes clover imagery as well.
Doki Doki! PreCure is scheduled to air on February 3, 2013, meaning that Smile PreCure is set to run approximately 47-49 episodes in total before it’s timeslot is replaced. Only a few more episodes remain until Smile PreCure is over; let’s enjoy it while it lasts!