Over the wide sea
Towards its many distant isles
My ship sets sail.
Will the fishing boats thronged here
Proclaim my journey to the world?
Dreams are a precious thing that we hold onto, a thing that keeps us going during our most troubling tumults. It provides us with the drive and focus to succeed, and is born from a promise made with those we love, and from those who love us in return. Dreams born in childhood are partly precocious due to the romance of determining importance in a future that kids naively envision. For Rikka Hishikawa, there’s an image in her mind of a future that most people share at her age and even older. It’s a wonderful, romantic thing that brings out our emotions and keeps us in check, especially for Rikka herself. Luckily for her, she has two amazing parents who are the first loves of her life. Karuta, as she eventually discovers at the end of this week’s episode, is but another.
The poetry of Hyakunin Isshu is utilized in anime to establish romantic undertones to the stories therein. Most notably, Chihayafuru takes on the poems themselves in the form of a competitive sports shojou story, with plenty of moments in which the poems are described and analyzed in particular detail relating to the thoughts and feelings of unforgettable characters such as Chihaya and Kana. Their appreciation for individual poems add a layer of meaning to their actions and their dreams. Dokidoki doesn’t take this approach in the episode, but there certainly is no meaning lost in some of the poems that they interact with. Let’s take a look at some of them.
When I take the path
To Tago’s coast, I see
Perfect whiteness laid
On Mount Fuji’s lofty peak
By the drift of falling snow.
Interestingly enough, poem #4 above was used in one of the training sequences in the episode, as indicated by the screenshot that it accompanies. I’m not exactly sure whether or not this inclusion was merely coincidental, but the poem itself is a wonderful choice to include in this moment. It beautifully depicts a scene of Mount Fuji that the poet observes on his journey, responding to the imagery with humbling awe.
Rikka is only just discovering the beauty of the game of Karuta, which she stumbles upon in her lifelong journey to become a doctor. Where does it fit in her life? Does she have what it takes to balance both? Can’t she simply chase two dreams at once? She can, and she’ll learn in life that the road taken is hers alone, and the journey itself is as meaningful as its destination. It’s a journey taken by peers before her, and it’s a journey that I am glad to witness.
It is for your sake
That I walk the fields in spring,
Gathering green herbs,
While my garment’s hanging sleeves
Are speckled with falling snow.
Parents are wonderful people, and in the world of PreCure, mothers are perhaps the most important people in the lives of these magical warriors. With all the burning strength that these girls muster, they still find further strength from their moms, those who are essentially living out the future that which the girls dream. Each mother is different, and each bring about different inspiring characteristics that allow these girls to pursue their own futures. For Rikka, her mother, Hishikawa Ryoko, is her first rolemodel. She works tirelessly at a hospital, making a difference in society and being the sole authoritative presence in the house while Rikka’s father is away pursuing his own dreams.
Rikka realizes the hard work and sacrifice required to achieve the same career success as her mother, and tries to model herself based on her perception of the perfection that her mother exudes. The value she places on her mother’s achievements in life, including both her career and family achievements, essentially puts Ryoko on a pedestal for hero worship. Rikka, at her age, doesn’t see the forest for the trees, however. Ryoko’s life is more than just that one accomplishment. She is a complete individual who had to overcome her own trials and tribulations, and found her own passions. Rikka likely won’t find her own globetrotting photographer, but she certainly has karuta, precure, Mana, and many other things that make up her identity.
Finding success is not necessarily about just studying hard. As studious as Rikka is, she is more than just a tryhard bookworm. It is ultimately up to her mother to help her realize that.
Through an unsleeping night
Longingly I pass the hours,
While the day’s dawn lags.
And now the bedroom shutters
Are keeping light and life from me..
The road to personal and life fulfillment, no matter how early one begins that journey, is bound to bring these unsleeping nights. Time passes by all too slowly, whether that be due to restless thoughts of one’s own doubts, or simply stresses brought about by life circumstances (in Rikka’s case, the decision to become a PreCure). The choices that people like Rikka make get in the way of the goals that they seek. Selfless or selfish, the choices are made with a particular motivation in mind, and come with their own costs. The stress brought upon Rikka (and by extension, every other girl in the franchise) as a result of the PreCure lifestyle is only rarely examined in detail, but always persists.
Whether the dream is to win a dancing competition or to become a doctor, the life of a PreCure gets in the way of what these girls want to do. They have to find the perfect balance, and while the benefits of a PreCure life are apparent from an emotional development standpoint, girls sometimes just want to be girls and not magical girls. It’s the decision that they bear, and they won’t see the results of their sacrifices until the ultimate war is over. There is always a King Selfish, Moebius, Pierrot, or Dune that stands in the way. It’s up to these girls to toughen out those nights and overcome these challenges.
If I should live long,
Then perhaps the present days
May be dear to me,
Just as past time filled with grief
Comes quietly back in thought.
Not all that is good remain as such. Emotions are a volatile, dynamic thing that slingshots people back and forth across different outlooks and attitudes towards life and with their peers. Whether it be a bad guy that turns good, or a good guy gone bad, they are always a result of emotions, brought upon by events that happened in the past. They are always there, and are subject to overanalysis and hasty judgments. Dokidoki does a fantastic job at portraying characters who reflect on their past actions, allowing them to valuate themselves in the present. Not only are the PreCure are subject to self-examination, but the victims as well, whose hearts become corrupted as a result of the tiniest itch that would otherwise not need itching.
But when a PreCure is subject to that sort of reflection, it often brings about realization of themselves, which provide the emotional turnaround necessary to summon just enough intangible power to overcome the monster of the week and its associated issues that it brings. Rikka’s heart is perhaps the most volatile of the bunch based on the show’s developments so far. I still believe that there is still opportunity for her emotions to be preyed upon by the bad guys, but should it happen, there is still hope for her yet. For every doubt and worry, she has hopes and dreams, and a support network of friends and family that only want the best for her.
Come what may, she’ll always have Karuta and the poems that hold special meaning in her own heart.