Doki Doki! PreCure Episode 3: Give an Inch, Take a Mile

This girl is now Diamonds.

This girl is now Diamonds.

[Doki Doki! PreCure Episode 2]
[Doki Doki! PreCure Episode 4]

In PreCure, the secondary Cure is a very interesting role that doesn’t get enough consideration. From White to Rouge to Marine, the unofficial second-in-command is unheralded to the point of invisibility within the context of the entire group. Look no further than Suite PreCure’s Kanade Minamino/Cure Rhythm and her figurative disappearance during the second half of the show’s run. While the past few episodes have excellently showcased Rikka and her role as Mana’s support in both civilian and PreCure form, there remains a chance based on past foibles that once Rosetta and Sword enter the fray, Diamond will fade to the background. It’s for this reason that the somewhat unresolved feeling of Diamond’s premiere is a good thing for her in the future.

Synopsis

After examining the Cure Lovies, Rikka and Mana decide to confront the mysterious stall proprietor at CloverTower. After Rikka drops off a letter to her father currently working overseas, they run into the man from the Tower, who happens to be opening up a shop in town. Despite pleading to stay away from her friend, Rikka is given a Cure Lovies of her own, and when a Jikochu is transformed from a nearby mailbox, Rikka finds herself having to transform into Cure Diamond in order to save Cure Heart from trouble.

Somehow, there’s a sense of dread that I’m feeling from Rikka’s awakening as Cure Diamond at this point of the PreCure franchise. After ten years of magical girl kickassery, I find myself having developed a healthy unease with regards to the secondary cures that probably stemmed from the third crossover movie.

In Pretty Cure All-Stars Deluxe 3, all of the girls are separated into three different worlds and are tasked with defeating monsters and villains past in order to escape and reunite. In the arctic shipwreck world, all of the blue-tone Cures (essentially, the secondary PreCure) are grouped together, and their initial miscues play off the fact that none of them are natural leaders. This naturally along the crossover rogues gallery’s plans, but the point where the cures come around and eventually escape stem from a realization of their roles and relationships to the lead cures.

Second best. Second fiddle.

Second best. Second fiddle.

Even Cure White, who gets the most proper screentime treatment by nature of Futari wa’s cast size, leads the fray with her reason for moving forward. Because Cure Black wouldn’t give up, she shouldn’t give up either. The sentiment is echoed by the other girls, including Marine, Berry, Melody, Egret, and Aqua/Mint. Seeing all of these “lesser” cures together raised an eyebrow with regards to their perceived importance in their respective shows.

With the addition of a skeptical, hesitant Cure Diamond, Doki provides an ample opportunity to examine the role of the second fiddle within the PreCure group. In the context of Doki’s cast in particular, Rikka serves an interesting role as the indebted best friend. Before she decides to become Cure Diamond, she flashes back to her first meeting with Mana, and we are shown a wallflower of sorts who can only break out of that role by simply being dragged ahead by someone more outgoing.

Rikka's childhood plants the seeds for a tense relationship of support.

Rikka’s childhood plants the seeds for a tense relationship of support.

As a result, everything that Rikka has achieved on a social level is all thanks to Mana. She is indebted to her, which is why she transformed. She is depended upon for support, and she obliges out of kindness and selflessness, perhaps a stronger selflessness than how Mana is portrayed in relation to the rest of society. Given how clueless Mana is, it’s quite a task to get her out of trouble, especially with regards to recent developments in her awakening as a PreCure. It’s one of the reasons why she doesn’t want to become a PreCure to begin with. She has too much on her plate already, given her shy nature and tendency to live alone without the same kind of abundantly loving environment that her best friend has. And as much as she tries to support Mana in becoming Cure Heart, she naturally finds herself in a position to be dragged along into her war.

Give an inch, take a mile. Let’s put on our tinfoil hats and take a look at what this could mean for the story going forward, both at a contextual and metatextual level.

There’s a wavering heart still in Rikka. She doesn’t want to become a PreCure for the same reasons that those before her have. She’s in it not for herself, but for Mana’s sake. Here we have a girl with perceived weakness similar to Tsubomi and her introversion, but compensated for by depending on Mana to push her forward. We have Mana, the girl who is the sole reason for Rikka’s personality and development to this point, who, despite depending on Rikka for support, is quite a handful and has a developing connection with Makoto Kenzaki and Cure Sword on two different levels, and there’s opportunity for tension with the addition of more cures to the cast.

Rikka refuses to answer the PreCure's call. How long can she last?

Rikka refuses to answer the PreCure’s call. How long can she last?

Now, with Cure Sword’s story and the Trump Kingdom in the background of all this, there really isn’t much time to resolve her aloofness towards Cure Heart as established in episodes 1 and 2. Promotional material for the next All-Stars movie features all four PreCure present, which means that Sword eventually joins the group at the time the movie comes out, which is around March. Given that Rosetta is confirmed to appear next week due to episode 4’s preview, there’s enough time to do two episodes to have Cure Sword join with her interesting backstory and fully explaining the premise of the show and the Selfish’s involvement with the TrumpKingdom’s princess.

With the Cure Sword/Trump Kingdom angle somewhat resolved early on, that leaves us without any particular storyline for the important midseason arc. Often, midseason arcs provide opportunity to add an additional PreCure to the cast. In Fresh and Suite, we’ve even seen villains turn good and become PreCure themselves. However, what we haven’t seen yet is an arc where the good girl becomes bad due to some sort of brainwashing scheme. Dark PreCure aren’t exactly a new thing, but neither is the brainwashed dark magical girl. In the live action Sailor Moon, the highlight arc of that series is the brainwashing of Sailor Mercury to become Dark Mercury.

It’s worth noting that Sailor Mercury is the second girl to become a sailor soldier.

Doki Doki! PreCure

Pretty and pure Cure Diamond. Just add a bit of black.

Doki Doki! PreCure is the perfect opportunity to address the franchise’s problem with not giving the adequate focus and attention to the secondary girl in the wake of expanding from the two-girl format to the squad format. With the Selfish’s methods of summoning their monster-of-the-week relying on preying on the selfish hearts of civilians, their abilities seem primed to take on the girl in the main cast with the most wavering heart.

Cure Heart is the embodiment of her namesake. Cure Sword is strong and competent despite being (temporarily) aloof. Cure Rosetta is mysterious, and it’s hard for anyone to get a handle on her. That leaves us with the girl most likely to cross over to evil, even if unwillingly.

Dark Diamond. I can’t get enough of Dark PreCure, and neither do the fans, as far as fanart is concerned. This is the perfect opportunity for another one to show up amidst unique circumstances. If it doesn’t happen midway throughout the season, I won’t necessarily be disappointed, as I’m sure there will be something equally riveting in its stead. However, Toei would be crazy to not do this.

Rikka has proven to be a fascinating character, and yet everything that’s happened so far seems to hint at something more than what we’ve seen so far. There’s so much potential for further characterization, but it’s that potential that leaves an audience wanting more as the character continues to be awesome in their own way. With the introduction of Cure Rosetta next week, the cast dynamic is only going to be more intense. We’ll just have to see if everything can fit, because if it doesn’t at first, then all the more reason to try to shake things up with something crazy.

Hrmm...

Hrmm…

And if that crazy happens to be Dark Diamond? Just shut up and take my money already, Toei.

15 thoughts on “Doki Doki! PreCure Episode 3: Give an Inch, Take a Mile

  1. There are different types of attitudes one can have when offering to support another, and DokiDoki is doing a really interesting exploration of a few of these through Rikka and Alice respectively. (Here’s where I’m going to put on my tinfoil hat for a moment.)

    Following this episode and, more importantly, next week’s preview, I surmised that Rikka is Naru/Molly (Sailor Moon) if she had been presented with the opportunity to become a sailor scout while Alice is Tomoyo/Madison (CCS/Cardcaptors) if she had been blessed with any sort of magical prowess.

    The difference in just these two framing examples from other magical girl series points out varying support attitudes. Naru is blithe and ordinary but cares about Usagi deeply. Unfortunately, the only support she offers, or feels that she is able to offer, is that of a caring friend. She picks up Usagi’s spirits by simply being present and being something decidedly NOT otherworldly. Along with Usagi’s immediate family, Naru represents the people that Usagi has sworn to protect: not some future magical monarchy (although there is some of that as well) but the average human life. Naru is forever being snatched by the enemy, or falling in love with the enemy, because she’s human and present, but also because she’s close to Usagi, continuously and subconsciously reminding Usagi of what she fights for.

    In spite of all this Naru, unlike Rikka, doesn’t fully tie her personality to Usagi’s. She is Usagi’s best friend –– and laments the fact that she can’t support Usagi beyond being a friend in spite of knowing somehow that she’s in trouble –– but has her own life to lead that’s not directly tied to supporting Usagi. As you succinctly point out, what we know of Rikka is that she’s becoming a cure for Mana, not because she herself wants to. In a way, she’s escaping the sorrow that Naru faces when she realizes that her best friend is in trouble and can’t do anything about it, but in becoming a magical girl, Rikka takes on an entire new set of problems all, again as you say in this post, tied to the fact that she’s doing it all for Mana and not for herself. As an aside, she also forfeits her role as an ordinary person within the story construction.

    Contrasting with Rikka is Alice who seemingly (although we don’t know much about her) has a solid head on her shoulders and presence as to who she is. She doesn’t appear to have the same inner turmoil and self-doubt that Rikka does, and she obviously has her own life to lead. There are the surface similarities to Tomoyo: extraordinarily rich, the fact that she caught Mana and Rikka as cures on camera which is the exact way that Tomoyo discovers Sakura’s card-capturing adventures. However, there is also the self-confidence that Tomoyo displays seemingly inherent in Alice. Tomoyo supports Sakura because she loves her, but never lets that take away from her own personality. One of the absolute best lines to come out of Cardcaptor Sakura is Tomoyo’s, “If the person I love is happy, then I’m happy too.” and the quiet self-confidence on display from one in a supporting role only. Tomoyo never sacrifices herself for Sakura, but chooses to support her because she loves her. Where Rikka looks after Mana because she ties it to her own self-worth, Alice, if she chooses to follow the Tomoyo model, will help Mana and become a cure wholeheartedly because it’s another way to support someone she cares about. On paper, and through my lousy explanation, the two may seem very similar, but there’s an important difference in Rikka and Alice’s attitudes that are tied to their own self-worth.

    That is, if Alice follows the path that I think she will. ^ ^

    1. Oh my god AJ you totally nailed it with Alice. She really does have that Tomoyo vibe going for her, even though I can’t see the extent of her relationship to Mana yet, so I can’t draw comparisons too early on, but as you said, the comparisons between her relationship to Mana compared with Rikka’s is such a fantastic parallel to the Molly/Madison spectrum that I only briefly mentioned in episode 2’s post. In this case, as you said, we get to see both characters become magical girls and naturally become closer to Mana by “PreCure proximity.” There exists a duality between Diamond and Rosetta as characters, but somehow I can’t help but think that there could be an added dimension on the PreCure level. Consider that Alice is the rich girl of the two, but Rikka is Cure Diamond.

      Love your comments as always. I’m glad to have you as a reader of the blog!

  2. I always enjoy the PreCure origin episodes just to see HOW and WHY the girls become super awesome! This one felt a bit like Heartcatch’s episodes with Potpourri looking for her partner and eventually recruiting Itsuki to join the PreCure team, but of course this was done earlier in Doki Doki, which is perfectly fine and I can’t wait to see how they explore the whole Rikka x Mana relationship as a team in the future.

    Dark Diamond sounds amazing! I can’t wait to see all the walls of fanart in the future! I wanted to draw the dark PreCure girls from Smile, but I got a bit behind…maybe one day I will tackle that eventually.

    Now to draw Cure Diamond with another WoW weapon! I am thinking ThunderFury aka DiamondFury .> also I love the “gang” signs the doki doki girls do after they transform LOL

    1. Son of a B! It ate my small part on Alice…

      I can’t wait to see Alice become Cure Rosetta even though personally I wish it was Cure Clover! I am also curious to know if Alice is in charge of a company? I think her family owns clover tower? If so maybe she has lots of responsibilities towards that which leaves little to no room for friends or normal stuff? In terms of character she gives off the Reika vibes in terms of being proper and all that, but who knows maybe she isn’t all that bright? That would be so amazing if it were true! I guess we need to wait for episode 04 to see if our predictions come true.

    2. I think Alice can be quite smart. If anything, she is quite aware of what’s going on with regards to Mana and Rikka’s shennanigans, and is quite accepting of everything that involves PreCure. While I’m not sure what her responsibilities are as far as business involvement with her family is concerned (they do own the tower, as you said), but she seems to at least have a shrewd business sense that runs in the family. In the preview, she proposes that she becomes the PreCure’s manager, which seems to be more of a business managerial role rather than that of say a celebrity’s manager like Makoto’s. If anything, she is very much like Reika with regards to her mannerisms befitting a person in her position in society, but she certainly does like to go off in her own world like Reika does, although it may not be on the same wavelength. Weird comes in all sorts of packages, after all!

    3. You brought up a really awesome point about the fairy mascots in Heartcatch, because the relationships between girls and their fairies seem to be quite similar for both, as the fairies are required in order to transform. Interestingly enough, it would seem that the fairies in Doki Doki are prone to follow their precure partners first and foremost, as seen with Cure Sword, though to an extent, Suite PreCure was like that as well with Cure Muse and her fairy tone.

      While the bulk of the relationships between PreCure in Doki Doki have been between the PreCure themselves, I would definitely like to see episodes spotlighting the relationships between the girls and their fairy partners as well. Each fairy has a pretty unique personality of their own, so how well they mesh with their partners are general indicators of their combined strength when they transform. One of my favourite episodes in Heartcatch examined the relationship between Cure Marine and Coffret, which made Erika look like a total Tsundere for her fairy partner, lol.

      If you’re going to draw Diamond with a weapon, it has to be either ThunderFury or Frostmourne. Love the concept of gang signs as well in Doki Doki. Rosetta’s gang sign is the best, btw. Haters gonna hate.

    1. I don’t think it would happen, but she would be absolutely be devastated. I don’t think it would be too different from most other girls in this franchise who lose their best friends. The closest Cure who had dealt with loss is easily Cure Moonlight, and having lost her fairy partner Cologne, she pretty much lost everything, her powers included later on. Fairy partners and fellow PreCure are completely different things, but I can imagine it would be something much worse. I don’t think the little girls in the audience would like it though, so I doubt that would happen, haha.

  3. Having watched only a small part of two series, Heartcatch and Smile, I’ve less understanding than either yourself or the above commenters of how the PreCure franchise works. Hence, I wonder if you might tolerate a silly question?

    In your post you mentioned the upcoming film, and how Cure Sword has been shown to be together with the other three in that film. You also note that Cure Sword will likely need to have ‘resolved’ her aloof nature towards her future comrades before that film airs; am I therefore correct in my presumption that the films are treated as canon and strictly adhere to the (currently airing) timeline?

    If this is indeed the case then I am with both you and your commenters in your desire to see an examination of Diamond’s wavering. AJtheFourth’s comment adds wonderfully to your own commentary, and has me interested to see how Doki Doki handles it.

    If, however, this is not the case, I certainly wouldn’t object to watching a small arc, of say three or four episodes, that work towards Sword’s inclusion into the group. Nor would I necessarily mind if she retained her aloof nature whilst accepting the group. Rather, I should think I would prefer it, rather than a single episode resolution in which Sword becomes terribly chummy with her future colleagues.

    Perhaps I am barking up the wrong tree entirely, but as I say, I’m still new to all of this so please excuse my fumbling.

    Regardless, thank you for blogging this, it might just be the key element in keeping me caught up this time ’round.

    1. Crossover movies are definitely not canon in relation to all of the individual continuities, but the characters who do appear in them do borrow from material from other parts of their stories, whether that be their respective TV series or accompanying movies. The primary key here is that the crossover movies always include the currently-airing precure series from the same year that the movie is released, so there is some promotional consideration taken when choosing which characters to include.

      For example, Pretty Cure All-Stars DX2, which was screened during the same year that Heartcatch PreCure aired, only starred Cures Marine and Blossom, since at that point in the year (around March/April), Sunshine and Moonlight weren’t yet incorporated into the main group (Sunshine didn’t even exist, conceptually speaking). Likewise, DX3 only featured Cures Melody and Rhythm (excluding the not-yet-introduced Beat and Muse). It makes sense in this case, since the production does not want to spoil future details about events that haven’t happened yet.

      If this holds true for All-Stars New Stage 2, then the Doki Doki PreCure will have already banded together in time for the movie to begin, since the promotional material implies as such at the very least. It’s of particular note that for Smile PreCure, all the characters banded together by episode 5, meaning that they were all able to star in All-Stars New Stage, which got screened last year.

      I definitely agree with your assertion here that Sword should stay aloof despite joining the group. Perhaps I made a slightly unrealistic assumption here that her character arc would be resolved right away. The bare minimum here is for her to simply join the group, which actually works in favour of the series, since it already has an ambitiously long-term focus in its characterization so far. Even though Sword will very likely join the group, I think she will still be aloof, and it will be oh so moe.

      Going forward, I’ll continue to try and make the writing as accessible to readers who may not have watched a lot of the other works. In the meantime, feel free to ask any question that you may have. Thanks for the great comment!

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