The fourth and final PreCure to join the team in every 4-girl series prior to Dokidoki always involves a dramatic arc that results in that cure’s awakening or recruitment into the main group. In Fresh Pretty Cure!, Cure Passion’s recruitment is the result of an arc revolving Higashi Setsuna and her complicated relationship with both the PreCure and Labyrinth; in Heartcatch PreCure!, Cure Moonlight’s defeat is the basis for the first two girls becoming PreCure, but she joins later in the series after first acting like a mentor to the girls initially; in Suite PreCure!, Cure Muse remains a masked aloof ally throughout the series, but finally joins when Minor Land’s ruler, Mephisto, became involved. The precedent so far has been grand for the fourth PreCure’s arrival, but for Cure Sword, it was a simple episode that brought meaning that won’t be felt at full until her story is fully resolved.
Makoto has a television gig for a cooking show that is filmed at Mana’s family restaurant. She is put on the spot to prepare omelet rice, and to the dismay of onlookers Mana and Rikka, she shows complete culinary incompetence. The other three girls run into Makoto later on after filming and teach her how to cook. The second day of filming goes perfectly and Makoto successfully makes omelet rice for the four of them, but a Pig Selfish appears and starts eating everything in the restaurant, including parts of the restaurant itself. Mana and the others transform into PreCure, but are unable to stop the Pig’s monstrous growth. Makoto transforms into Cure Sword in front of the other three and vanquish the Selfish, officially joining the group afterwards. Beru interrupts their moment at the end and banishes them to another world.
As expected, Cure Sword manages to join the other PreCure just in time for All-Stars, which makes its box-office debut before episode 7. Piecing together details from episode 7’s preview, as well as certain lines spoken by Makoto during episode 6, my initial worry that Cure Sword might leave the group again (only joining for the sake of the All-Stars movie) is assuaged. Makoto mentions a specific person at whom she’s aiming her performances as an idol.
The only insights that we have about her relationship with this person are from brief visual cues from her thoughts as she shares her omurice with the other girls. Her short flashback suggests that the relationship dates back to the Trump Kingdom before it was destroyed, and it also suggests that she was also a performer in the Trump Kingdom in addition to her guardian duties as a PreCure, which explains her ability to not only become an idol, but to keep up with the hectic lifestyle required of one.
This means that the “Goodbye, PreCure!” portion of episode 7’s title would refer to the relationship between Sword and this other person, who may also be the same princess of the Trump Kingdom that the Selfish are trying to find. What I love about the show so far is that all of the information about this particular arc is on a need-to-know basis, which makes for improved storytelling of the “show, don’t tell” adage. Too often, anime falls into the trap of dumping large amounts of exposition onto its audience, often in the form of a character who exists simply as a mouthpiece for said exposition.
In PreCure, this is most often a mascot character such as Pop from Smile, though information is mostly contextual, and only the minimum is provided in order for the younger audience to keep up with what’s going on. In Dokidoki, however, it’s been mostly just goals and actions. Sword wants to meet this important person again, and it’s because of the other three that she’s able to refocus; therefore, she joins the group. Instead of telling the other girls about the TrumpKingdom, episode 7 will essentially show them where Sword is coming from, and the situation that they will have to face, and that’s absolutely perfect.
Answering another question raised by last week’s episode, Our tsuntsun Makoto finally gets to show her dere side, and what I love the most about her decision to join the group is that the decision was entirely hers to make, and that she made one at all. Dragging the tsun- side of a character on for too long happens way too often in other shows, and when that character finally comes around, they often revert back to the status-quo.
I can appreciate tsundere as a single directional change, rather than a flip-flop that comes off as indecisive and even annoying. Characters can still show their aloofness here and there, as it is natural, but as long as they accept their new circumstances as a result of a dere action, then it works just as well. Makoto will definitely keep withdrawing herself from the others despite joining them in this episode, but her eventual developing relationship with the other girls will be more meaningful because of that distance.
That said, her initial connection to the group is through Mana, and how the dynamic plays out between her and Rikka and Alice are yet to be seen. We’ll probably see episodes that address this, as we’ve seen in episodes that examined Setsuna’s relationship with Miki and Inori in Fresh, and that of Yuri with Itsuki and Tsubomi in Heartcatch. Comparisons will definitely be made with regards to each other girl’s relationship with Mana (as we’ve seen already between Rikka and Alice), but straightforward dynamics between Makoto and the others could shed more insight on the overall story. For example, there’s potential in seeing how Alice’s abundant resources can further Mako’s investigation of the Trump Kingdom. Alternatively, we could see something that compares the extent of introversion displayed by both Makoto and Rikka. The cast in Dokidoki has wonderful balance for character exploration, which will serve well with its pretty good story so far.
Directly opposing the PreCure themselves is the Selfish Trio, who have their own interesting little hierarchy going on. Ira, Mamo, and Beru follow nicely with the jack-queen-king motif that coincides with the suits motif that the show is developing. Beru’s appearance at the end of this episode had shades of Joker at the end of Smile episode 31, in which he captures the PreCure banishes them into a Bad End illusion. There’s a wealth of differences between Joker and Beru from a personality standpoint, but their role in their respective rogues gallery is essentially the same.
It’s interesting how he would appear so early in the series compared to Joker, who didn’t show up until the tanabata episode at the end of episode 21. His appearance adds immediate urgency to the show, in the same vein as Dark PreCure in Heartcatch (even Dark PreCure didn’t appear in front of the others until episode 10). His larger stature is imposing, using size and strength to intimidate rather than the mental trickery that Joker uses.
What I love most about the Selfish trio, however, is their lair. There’s a laid-back, suave air to the bowling alley/bar, brought out by really awesome set design, smooth background music akin to the manor music in Futari wa Pretty Cure, and serving as a cherry on top of this cake of cool corruption, a neon logo hangs on the wall of the bar, reading GoGo! Jikochu. GoGo is a reference to the Yes 5 series, but serves no other purpose than being an awesome name for a bowling alley for baddies.
The dim lighting and thunderous booms of bowling balls thrown (into the gutter for good measure) accent the petty bickering between a henchmen trio, who, despite their appearance, are incapable of defeating a group of little girls. Other awesome thematic villain lairs include Nightmare Corporation’s staff boardroom in Yes! Pretty Cure 5, Eternal’s museum in the sequel series, and Dusk Zone’s mansion mentioned earlier. Doki’s bowling alley of avarice will probably find a place among these by the time the series is over.
At only six episodes so far, so much has happened all at once in Dokidoki, and with the rush of All-Stars throwing things out of whack slightly, this show certainly has a whole lot more to show in the future. Without a halfway arc dedicated to adding an additional cure, pretty much anything can happen from this point forward. With all of the girls finally together, things can only get more intense from here. At least, intense as far as PreCure shows are concerned.