Dokidoki! PreCure Episode 10: Diamond in the Rough

Dokidoki! PreCure

The best part about PreCure as a giant metaseries is that the different continuities therein serve to reinforce the same theme of the power of friendship in many different ways. The formula set by the original Futari wa Pretty Cure is one that truly stands on its own, but it is only through that formula that one can truly appreciate the design space available when re-framing the central ideas that encompass nearly all magical girl shows. Varying cast sizes establish the nature of friendship between individuals in group settings as well as more intimate dynamics between singular pairs of focal characters like Honoka and Nagisa. Even between setups where cast sizes are generally the same, one can observe the change the focal approach of each show’s respective characters and how they are depicted, yet still result in new ways of examining friendship between them.

In the case of the two most recent iterations, Dokidoki PreCure and its 1-year junior, Smile PreCure, both are shows that demonstrate a fairly modern and polished production compared to its predecessors, yet still manage to take the franchise in new directions in the wake of the franchise’s success to date. While both series are highly competent at portraying its main cast as a group of close-knit girls who care deeply about each other (regardless of whether or not Yuri goggles are involved), they take two very different approaches at doing so. Smile favours a strongly individualistic approach through spotlight episodes, fully fleshing out characters one-by-one, but gently nesting them within the support network of the “rest of the cast.” On the other hand, Dokidoki prefers to form its characters’ identities through the nature of their relationships with each other, rather than who they are as individuals.

There is no truly correct way to go about characterization as far as PreCure (or any form of fiction) is concerned, but this constant re-focus fulfills the design ideology that Izumi Todo has followed ever since they realized that PreCure started blazing its own trail akin to Kamen Rider and its tokusatsu ilk. Dokidoki is just another set of different strokes that will appeal to a different set of folks, and episode 10 is a major exemplar of this current and constantly evolving design philosophy. What first appeared to be a Makoto episode based on preview footage from the end of episode 9 ended up being a Rikka-centric episode, but subtly brought out the best from its supporting characters in Alice. In Dokidoki, one must not think strictly in terms of focus and not-focus, but rather in the interactions and dynamics between one person and the rest of the cast.

Let’s examine the different relationships that exist in this episode, particularly surrounding Rikka.

Rikka and Mana: a struggle of between support and ownership

Dokidoki! PreCure

As I mentioned in episodes 2 and 3 regarding Rikka’s awakening as Cure Diamond, her relationship with Mana persists out of emotional need. Rikka is indebted to Mana due to the latter’s outgoing ability to drag the former around and break her out of her shell. This indebtedness, accumulated over time and set like routine clockwork (the frog alarm is shown twice under starkly different circumstances), is fragile and easily disrupted by the appearance of Makoto, who threatens that supposed security in allowing Rikka to support so selflessly to Mana. As their conversation in the beginning of the episode indicates, Rikka’s role as the giving wife puts her in a position of absolute trust and reliability. Imagine how quickly that reliability is broken down when another person comes out of nowhere and fills her niche.

Rikka, in order to maintain that relationship with Mana, feels like she has to be the only one to attend to Mana. No one else can interfere. Her jealousy is the same as Makoto’s cheer squad captain, whose heart turns into a selfish. I don’t believe that Rikka would easily have her heart corrupted like that, but the sudden change in the anicamera colour filter when she immediately recognizes her own feelings is alarming, and at once answers a load of questions that I posed previously about the possibility of her wavering heart to be exploited in the future.

In close, Rikka’s greatest obstacle standing in the way between her and Mana is actually herself, rather than Makopi or Alice. The way that she hides her feelings, even though it’s easily read by both her mother and Alice, does not allow her to truly accept anything logical about the situation. A scene the night before the Selfish battle has her mind race in so many directions, forming demons in her own mind, far more formidable than anything that has set foot in the Trump Kingdom. It’s wonderfully depicted because it passes by so quickly; it leaves doubt in the viewer’s mind about what Rikka actually feels about her situation in relation to Mana.

Diamond and Sword: two halves of the same heart

Dokidoki! PreCure

It’s very interesting that two people from different backgrounds can come into the same situation and develop similar needs. Both are indebted to Mana for her selflessness, and want to support her. What makes this particular dynamic fascinating is that the two girls come from opposing sides of the magical girl duality. Rikka is Mana’s childhood friend. Cure Sword is the first girl that Cure Heart identifies and wishes to befriend. They all join the same group, and suddenly there’s a struggle to find the right place to return the favor given to them.

There’s a particularly interesting case such that Cure Sword could very well have a more difficult time adjusting. Unlike most girls in the franchise, Cure Sword is a PreCure first and foremost, and a normal girl second (if normal is the right word at all; her popularity as an idol breaks down this notion even further). She struggles to adapt to the world of humans, as indicated in the sequence of events at school where she showcases her textbook clumsiness that seems to come out of an American infomercial. She hasn’t truly acclimated, and it will take some time, as well as Mana’s help.

With Rikka, here’s a girl who at first didn’t even want to become a PreCure, but has found herself in this situation out of necessity, particularly to further provide support for Mana while she’s Cure Heart. Rikka displays the same mental sharpness and capability that she has in her civilian form, but with the addition of Cure Sword, who is quite formidable in her own right, she has to be the ultimate team player. This is indicated quite well when Diamond works with Heart to defeat the cheerleading Selfish. Cure Sword, naturally the most powerful Cure in the group, even points out how well they work together.

Despite the resolution in the plot of this week’s episode, the problem still remains. All that was resolved was Rikka’s feelings about the situation. There will be growing pains, and there will be further opportunity to examine the different aspects of Precuredom that affects Mana’s life that will demand support from either Rikka or Makoto, perhaps even both. It’s a fascinating way to depict this duality, and it makes perfect sense to portray this through character dynamic, as this show sets out to do.

Diamond and Rosetta: seeking together the happiness for others

Dokidoki! PreCure

Where Rikka and Makoto are clashing forces that compete for the affection and attention of the same person, Rikka and Alice are more complementary in their pursuit for further development in their relationship with Mana. What fascinates me the most about these two girls is that they’re both mentally sharp in their own ways. Where Rikka displays an academic acumen and the ability to adapt to different situations, Alice is more aware of herself and her surroundings, resulting in a more developed perception of her world, both from an emotional and a sensory standpoint.

The scene that really stands out in this episode is that which takes place in Alice’s car as they drive to Mana’s house after school. After Rikka offhandedly mentions Mana’s excitement regarding Makoto’s transfer, a brief silence remains in the car, but it doesn’t last for too long, as Alice immediately suggests that they visit Mana’s house. It captures Alice’s great sense for mood, and the audience can feel the consideration that Alice has for Rikka’s feelings, simply because she feels the exact same way, but deals with it quite differently.

A similar situation occurs a scene later at Mana’s house after Mana drapes a blanket over the sleeping Makoto. The shot cuts back to Rikka’s gesture of discomfort, but immediately following that, Alice turns toward Rikka, fully aware. Not only is Alice concerned about Mana’s wellbeing, but everyone in the group. With respect to Rikka, specifically, she is considered a childhood friend as well in Alice’s eyes. She shows concern for Rikka’s unhappiness just as she would if it were Mana. In Tomoyo-like fashion, she helps Rikka identify that unhappiness and acknowledge it.

Dokidoki! PreCure

“Whatever your thoughts may be, if you don’t say them, none of it will be acknowledged by others.” – Tomoyo Daidouji

In Cardcaptor Sakura, Tomoyo gives this advice to Syaoran Li, who is in a similar predicament with Sakura as Rikka is with Mana. In order for Tomoyo and Alice to give this sort of advice, they both have to possess the self-awareness to acknowledge that feeling from a personal level before identifying it in others. The final bit of advice that Alice gives to Rikka is to realize is that everyone has the same feelings. It’s the final revelation that Cure Diamond has once the Selfish is vanquished, and it puts her at ease, at least for the time being.

Dokidoki! PreCure

Episode 10 was a perfect display of character dynamics and subtlety, something that is not only remarkably rare in anime today, but so easily constructed and contrasted with all of the blunt humor and antics that also form a part of the PreCure experience. For every Erika, Saki, or Akane facial expression, there’s a diamond in the rough, a lone wolf howling by the moonlight, or redemption for those who follow their own passionate beat.

11 thoughts on “Dokidoki! PreCure Episode 10: Diamond in the Rough

  1. This is an absolutely fantastic essay.

    My general thoughts during this episode were “this is pretty much what everyone was hoping for” with regards to Rikka, looking in depth at her insecurities with her relationship with Mana. I love how the episode (and as a result your thoughts too) delved further than just beyond Rikka’s feelings and actions (though still focused on her). However, the episode did raise a question of whether or not it will go further in that direction. Throughout the episode, I was expecting it to show Rikka’s heart turn a little bit dark, but it didn’t, and by the end, it appeared like she more or less accepted everything.

    1. I think I will agree with you here. Rikka realizes that her insecurities are inherent in everyone, and that it’s a natural thing that happens to people, as pointed out by Alice. This is actually quite a heavy theme that Dokidoki as a whole is trying to express. The notion that normal people show selfishness every day and in every facet of life is quite the allegation on humanity as a whole, and I feel that they’re straddling a fine line of optimism and cynicism that they did with Yuri’s backstory in Heartcatch PreCure.

      I honestly can’t wait where they take this concept going forward, but I expect more trying times for the girls ahead. Their hearts will be tested, and only the power of the precure can turn away the selfish desires that warp what seems to be at least somewhat reasonable intentions.

  2. It’s always a special kind of wonderful to experience the product of one who is doing what they love, as it was with this post.

    Ahem, moving on. ^ ^

    As for the Tomoyo/Alice parallel, I loved that you brought up how Alice’s own insecurities would have played in to her subtle recognition and handling of Rikka’s emotional turmoil in this episode. She addresses this herself towards the end of the episode, allowing Rikka to give her own confusion a name and a cause.

    In Cardcaptor Sakura any acknowledgement of emotional stress is far more subtle in Tomoyo’s characterization, but does not negate the fact that it would have had to exist in order for her feelings to be what they are by the end of the series.

    As a parallel, or more volatile outlet of unrequited romantic love, Cardcaptor Sakura gives us Sonomi Daidouji, Tomoyo’s mother, who loved Sakura’s mother, Nadeshiko. Sonomi had held all of her spite and hatred for Fujitaka Kinomoto, Sakura’s father, up until the beginning of the series, blaming him for the loss of Nadeshiko whom she loved. Through the course of the series, she comes to accept that Nadeshiko loved Fujitaka and that she was, in fact, happy to be with him. It is Sakura herself, and her happiness/love for both of her parents, that allows Sonomi to accept Fujitaka and move on (albeit by teasing him as her “romantic rival”).

    One can’t help but think that it’s the feelings of her mother, among other reasons, why Tomoyo so easily accepts that her own romantic love of Sakura will go unrequited, moving on to her decision to support Sakura in finding her happiness. It’s important to remember that, spoilers, Tomoyo loses in terms of winning Sakura’s heart romantically for herself. This can’t have been an easy thing to accept, and yet Tomoyo continues to prod both Sakura and Syaoran so that they can undergo a similar introspection and realize their feelings for each other. She never pushes too hard, only giving each of them enough of a poke to recognize how their feelings have developed.

    Back to Alice, it makes me morbidly curious to understand where exactly her emotions, and easy acceptance of, are coming from. It takes courage for her to step forward and say, “Yes, this is how I felt too.” voicing not only her own feelings but the feelings of Rikka, and especially Makoto. (It’s easy to forget Makoto in this episode, but I loved that the series continued to address her actual discomfort, as opposed to clumsiness, etc, of being thrust into a pre-formed group of friends. She is someone who is most comfortable in her precure form and the fact that she has yet to gel fully with the group is taking her one last sanctuary, her role as a guardian and warrior, away from her.)

    In her first feature episode, Alice was introduced as a girl with a volatile temper and a fierce desire to protect the people that she loves. Tomoyo shares this with her, and they both throw their corporate weight around when need be; however, Alice has definitely been shown to be far more violent in nature. It makes me wonder how exactly she has come to be on such good terms with herself. Hardly about being perfect, as Alice too was admittedly jealous, it’s about the introspection and self-awareness needed to achieve that state of, for lack of a better word, grace. One of the reasons that I’ve come to realize why Tomoyo was so naturally able say that if the one she loved was happy than she would be happy too is that, on some level, she had already counted herself out of the running, disregarding the selfish nature that sometimes accompanies such feelings. Not only is this very difficult to do, but Alice has already been shown to have a passionate temper. Displaying the type of understanding and nuance of emotion that she did in this episode makes me only want to know how she was able to come to this point.

    1. Thank you so much for providing this wonderful comment. It’s responses like these that keep the discussion going, whether it’s directed towards PreCure or any other similar show. It’s personally rewarding when posts like these, which I’m extremely fond of writing, elicit these kinds of responses as well. It’s one of several reasons why I love blogging as a form of writing.

      As far as Alice is concerned, it is absolutely necessary for her to have that insecurity in order to not only provide the added dimension of characterization, but it also prevents her role in this episode (and in this series as a whole) from being “reduced to” the sagely character who simply gives advice to other characters. While these types of characters are insightful at times, those that lack characterization fall short in their ability to resonate emotionally with their audience. Wisdom comes from life experiences, and that needs to be at least hinted at when these characters share that wisdom, as it makes the gesture far more meaningful for both the giver and receiver of that exchange.

      Tomoyo, as you described, seems to not only draw from her own experience with her futility in winning Sakura’s love, but that of her mother as well. It adds yet another angle to round out that concept. Drawing parallels is a powerful way to get points across, especially from a narrative standpoint. I particularly love the concept of generational parallels and the whole “sins of the father” aspect of a child’s backstory.

      It would seem that there’s no parental parallel in Alice’s case, which actually makes me oddly curious about that part of her background. You make mention of wondering where her insecurity comes from. I am led to believe it has something to do with her parents. The concept of career-oriented parents who sacrifice the time that they potentially spend with their children is not new in PreCure. Honoka’s parents in Futari wa Pretty Cure are nearly always overseas and only come home to visit her on her birthday. Karen’s parents in Yes! Pretty Cure 5 are classical music performers and are always on tour, as is Hibiki’s mother.

      Most noticeably, Tsubomi’s parents from Heartcatch PreCure changed their career paths to address the adverse effects that were taking a toll on their own daughter’s emotional development. One commenter on your post about Tsubomi’s shadow self postured that the constant parental abandonment was one of the causes of Tsubomi’s inconsistencies. One could possibly imagine that those effects could be amplified under even more extreme circumstances like Alice’s, such that the parents are too obligated to their careers (and in this case, their brand) to actually address her emotional needs.

      It poses a few really interesting ideas, the first being how money cannot really buy happiness, as Alice has all the means to get whatever she wants for both leisure (i.e., her reaction to the crab selfish in episode 1) and PreCure reasons, but was only able to find her emotional outlet in Rikka and Mana while she was growing up. It explains her deep connection with the two of them, and it also justifies her ability to accept her own feelings so easily, while at the same time be remarkably adamant in defending their happiness. Second, it expands on the subtle emotional contributions from parental involvement in the show. In episode 10, we are privy to a conversation between Rikka and her wonderful mother, and in her previous spotlight episode, we learn that her father is overseas as an archaeologist. Mana sits at one end of the spectrum with both loving parents, with Rikka and Alice in the middle with incomplete/absent parents (at least Alice has Sebastian), and Makoto on the other end, whose only filial figure thus far is the Princess, who she holds quite dear.

      I personally would love to see an Alice spotlight episode that addresses her parental issues, as they are the only figures who are not shown in the series proper, which speaks a lot more about Alice than it would if they were present at all.

  3. Wow this episode! Such a great character themed episode instead of another theme of Ai’s power going crazy creating comedy, but those kinds of episodes are probably going to hit us soon I think?

    It was interesting to see the struggle with Rikka to accept Mana and Makoto hanging out together for some drama and I was surprised at Alice! Like you said she is fully aware of everything around her especially in the friendship department. I kind of figured at the start that Rikka will have some trouble with Mana getting closer to Makoto, but at least they solved it kind of quickly or is this really the end of all that? I guess it would get annoying if they brought it up every few episodes ahaha

    The best parts of this episode followed Makoto at school? Wow that girl is terrible at everyday live and yes of course this is her first time attending any school so I can forgive her on that, but it was still hilarious to see! Speaking of Makoto I was happy she said that about Mana and Rikka getting along and working well as a team…

    Rikka as Mana’s wife I SUPPORT THIS <3

    1. Dokidoki does a pretty good job bouncing back and forth between heavy and light episodes, but given the upcoming episode titles, the next few episodes will focus on plot development (ep11 is the new powerup, ep13 is about the princess), but episode 12 potentially features Mana taking on an apprentice, which may provide that opportunity for Mana-related hijinx. The next time we’ll be seeing another episode like this one will probably be episode 14, “Or a Dream, or a Promise! Rikka’s Many Worries!” Maybe it will be like this episode, where the title is misleading and it actually focuses on Alice’s backstory or something. I would be cool with that too, haha.

    2. hohoho awesome update on the episode titles! Maybe I should crank out a video for 6-10? I have been slacking…

      Yeah I forgot 11 was a power up themed episode xD

  4. Excellent post on a good episode!

    You can probably already guess how I felt about this episode given what I’ve said in the past, but for now I’d rather comment on what DokiDoki is rather than what it isn’t.
    An episode like this is what I’ve been looking forward to seeing and the way it handled Rikka’s jealously was very well done. What initially appeared to be a fairly standard episode about the new cure trying, and failing comedically, to become acclimated to daily life turned into something much more special. Makoto’s sudden appearance into the girl’s daily lives forces Rikka to come face to face with the limitations of her support relationship with Mana and it is not something she is really ready to deal with. There were moments that didn’t work for me, but for the most part, the subtlety of the episode was much appreciated, especially given how unsubtle this medium tends to be. I really liked the way the show portrayed Rikka’s jealousy through her interactions with the other characters, namely Alice, because it did a much better job of illustrating her confusion and pain than any internal monologue could’ve done.

    Speaking of which, despite the episode being mainly about Rikka, Alice received some good development in this episode as well. It is very interesting to see this character that is calm, supportive, cheerful, but ultimately reserved in contrast to Rikka’s much more open emotions. At the same time, though, we know that Alice has a much more aggressive side. It makes me wonder if her current personality is an active attempt to hide a side of her that she doesn’t want to come out. After all, if there is anything that this episode showed, it is that Alice is much more in control of her feelings than any of the other girls. She admits to being jealous as well, but that is not something we could know until she actually said so. Considering how dealing with one’s true feelings (or heart) is such a big theme in the show, I’m curious to see if they do anything similar with Alice in the future.

    Anyway, I’ll stop rambling now. Episode 10 was a good episode, especially after last week’s. I hope they do more like it in the future.

    1. I’m actually quite scared about how well they are handling Alice’s character. They’re doing just enough to provide that subtlety in her character without revealing too much as to completely lift that mysterious aura that surrounds her. Once that mystery is gone, I’m afraid of her possibly becoming flat the rest of the way. There are a whole lot of questions that the audience asks about her background and everything, though I can completely live with them being answered at the cost of being posed another question in return. A future episode will say “oh, she’s in control of her violent tendencies because of this particular incident,” but why is she putting all that effort into doing so? Where’s the motivation?

      Alice keeps teasing and will probably continue to tease as needed; she’s not the focal character of the show, and it’s often those who are out of the spotlight who naturally end up stealing the show anyway. I’m completely fine with that happening in this case. When everything is said and done, she may very well become one of my favourites in the entire franchise.

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