Dokidoki! PreCure Episode 16: History and Her Story

Dokidoki! PreCure

“You will always be fond of me. I represent to you all the sins you never had the courage to commit.” – Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

One of the more noticeable fingerprints left by this show on the Pretty Cure franchise is that of its numerous references and shoutouts to previous iterations of the series across history. It makes sense, considering that Dokidoki is marketed as the 10-year anniversary series in Toei’s cash cow production. These references are the best way to paint a history of Pretty Cure without making direct connections between continuities the way an anniversary series like Kamen Rider Decade did with its tokusatsu brethren. Since Pretty Cure All-Stars already exists and serves the mega-crossover function that Decade does, remembering love for previous PreCure is the most ideal approach to take.

This nostalgic style of production isn’t limited to just visual cues like that of Love Force Arrow, but also narrative ones as well, as I’ve outlined right from the start of the series. With every new plot development and new character introduced, a seasoned veteran of the franchise has up to this point trained themselves to dig deep into the precure database in an attempt to find connections between past and present. It’s a wonderful little bonus baked into the series without alienating newcomers too much. While there are aspects borrowed from different eras of the franchise’s history, it can serve as an interesting starting point for heavily curious prospective PreCure fans.

That said, the introduction of Regina in the past few episodes leaves me in a bit of a conundrum with regards to the direction that she will take as the show progresses. This episode provides an opportunity to showcase in her in a light that sets her up really well for a number of potential outcomes, each of which take from PreCure series past. Let’s take a stroll through the history of PreCure and examine the potential outcomes of Regina’s character arc.

The Princess’ Life: Futari wa Pretty Cure Max Heart

Futari wa Pretty Cure Max Heart

The first possible Regina-related outcome comes friom the sequel to the original Pretty Cure’s second season, Max Heart. In the Futari wa universe, the fairys’ homeworld is ruled by an entity known simply as The Queen, and holds the power to create things (as opposed to the Dusk Zone’s ruler, the Dark King, who holds the power to destroy). Proceeding the events of the end of the first season, both the Queen and Dark King disappear mysteriously, leaving behind several entities that make up their being. The Queen, in particular, breaks up into three components: the Queen’s Life, the Queen’s Will, and the Queen’s Heart.

The Queen’s Life takes the form of the third member of the Pretty Cure Team, Hikari Kujou, who transforms into Shiny Luminous. The Queen’s Will is composed of the 12 heartiels, fairy-like who represent different virtues posessed by the Queen. The Queen’s Heart takes the form of a chierect that houses the heartiels. Likewise, the Dark King leaves behind a being in the same manner as Hikari, a boy named Hikaru. The boy, despite being the essence of the evil king, is childlike, naive, and unaware of his circumstances and identity.

The overarching plot of the series revolves around the Pretty Cure searching for the heartiels and resurrecting the Queen, while at the same time, preventing the Dusk Zone from resurrecting the Dark King. Should a similar premise resurface in Dokidoki, the main players in the grand plot will be both Regina and Ai. Both are currently shrouded in mystery, but both have the same blank slate characterization that was given to Hikari and Hikaru. Regina in particular reminds me a lot of Hikari because she is a character who is steadily learning about the world around her (in this episode, about friendship), and her natural selfish tendencies lead the audience to believe that she is indeed her father’s daughter.

But what if she is actually a component of the life of the Princess or King Selfish? Nothing is said of Ange’s whereabouts since the Selfish’s attack on the Trump Kingdom, and claims of King Selfish’s paternity come from Regina herself. There could be a scenario where both Ai and Regina play an important role in the resurrection of Ange. Consider that Regina’s name comes from a Latin word that means Queen. If Dokidoki takes this route, I would be quite happy with the outcome, as it makes for a fantastic shoutout to Max Heart, and it can be played out in a way similar to Galaxia’s arc in the Sailor Moon series.

No Redemption Without Fall: Futari wa Pretty Cure Splash Star

Futari wa Pretty Cure Splash Star

Splash Star gets overlooked a lot in the PreCure franchise because it is in a precarious position of being one of the oldest Pretty Cure series in the history of the metaverse, but isn’t noteworthy for being the first in the series like Futari wa and its direct sequel Max Heart. However, this series has plenty to offer, including a fantastic midway arc that centers around the Kiryuu sisters, Kaoru (left) and Michiru (right). Created by the big bad, Akudaikan of the evil group Dark Fall, they were born with the same blank slate as Hikaru and Hikari, and tasked with protecting the Fountain of the Sky, which was captured and taken away from the good guys.

Prior to their “turn” as antagonists (earlier iterations of Pretty Cure relied on a sequential villain progression rather than a rogues gallery seen in Fresh/Heartcatch/Smile), they infiltrated the Land of Greenery (essentially Earth), and scouted out the PreCure to find their weakness, only to befriend them altogether. When the Kiryuu’s cover is dropped and Cures Bloom and Egret try to persuade them to leave Dark fall, the sisters refuse and attack directly. However, their perception of allegiance is changed forever due to their developed friendship with Saki/Bloom and Mai/Egret, and they ultimate sacrifice themselves to save the PreCure from Dark Fall in one particular event.

The sacrifice serves as an emotional turning point in the series, as it makes the main girls examine their situation and re-evaluate their goals as PreCure. In the context of Dokidoki, there is plot design space that allows for Regina to undergo the same shift in allegiance as the story progresses. What is lacking in this department, however, is that there isn’t the same tension of secrecy in allegiance that you see with the Kiryuu sisters and Eas in Fresh (more on that in a bit). That said, Regina is already questioning her own personality tendencies as well as what she represents as the symbollic (and supposed) daughter of King Selfish.

Under the possibility that she is actually linked to Ange in some way, that only adds to the inevitability of her characterization crossroads when she is forced to make a choice between siding with the girls and with the Selfish. We already see tension between her and both sides; the Selfish trio are afraid of her because she is King Selfish’s daughter, and Makopi cannot forgive her due to her allegiance and what the Selfish did to the Trump Kingdom. Regina is ultimately in a no-win situation, and a fall situation where she decides to sacrifice herself for either side would generate a ton of sympathy and emotional resonance simply based on that tension between sides.

Ace in the Hole: Fresh Pretty Cure (and Suite PreCure)

Fresh Pretty Cure!

The most prominent theory in fandom, simply due to wild rumors of a fifth cure, Cure Ace, involves Regina making a straightforward heel-face turn and joining the Dokidoki girls. PreCure defections are represented in the text solely by two examples, Setsuna/Eas/Cure Passion in Fresh, as well as Ellen/Seiren/Cure Beat in Suite. One of the more interesting tendencies I’ve seen in fandom so far (particularly in the limited amount of time I’ve spent looking through reactions on tumblr), is that Regina taking this particular route does not fit well at all with the rest of the show, at least from a comparitive standpoint. Regina’s arc so far isn’t “living up” to the redemption story that Setsuna undergoes.

It’s a natural reaction, this negative reception of Regina so far, particularly by fans of Fresh. From a series-wide standpoint, I feel that Ellen doesn’t get enough mention in this particular discussion. Her defection was a thing, and it was an important story element in Suite, as flawed and uneven as it was when it aired. Dokidoki, with all of the balls that it is currently juggling, may very well fail to keep it up, and become a more spectacular of a “failure” as Suite was, but one shouldn’t discount it from the history of the franchise altogether. Was Ellen’s defection badly received because Setsuna did it first/better? Perhaps, but as far as Dokidoki’s fingerprint is concerned, a defection fo Regina isn’t entirely out of the question.

The main point here is that if she does defect, it would be the emotional narrative behind that defection that takes center stage in the storytelling department. What the images in this show represent is a lot more nuanced and subtle than most viewers catch on initially. It took me a second viewing of the episode to really pick up on the visual composition of the show so far, and the series is doing a fantastic job chronicling Regina from a visual standpoint, from her Dark Cure comparative color scheme to camera framing and composition and beyond. At the end of the day, regardless of how well she would fit in with the rest of the group (not well at all, unless she takes a secondary power role like Candy at the end of Smile PreCure, which is my perceived best-case scenario with this outcome), she will become the third defect in the history of the franchise, and she will be studied greatly in relation others that came before her.

Suite PreCure

Dokidoki is treading an interesting line as far as Regina’s involvement is concerned, and while Cure Ace is the predominant item of discussion in fandom, I feel it necessary to point out the other ways in which Regina’s story could be addressed. Given the tendency of this series to shout out to shows past and present, I wouldn’t dismiss entirely the other shows that exist in the franchise, particularly Max Heart and Splash Star, two very underappreciated shows in the history of Pretty Cure. One does not necessarily have to like those shows in their lonesome in order to further appreciate the franchise as a whole. Even if Doki fails to intrigue me by its story, it has already succeeded in making me appreciate the rest of the metaverse. It is that very appreciation that has been intended by design for a show celebrating 10 years of doing the same thing over again, yet in different and amazing ways.

6 thoughts on “Dokidoki! PreCure Episode 16: History and Her Story

  1. I haven’t seen Suite so I cannot comment on Ellen’s defection; however, I cannot help but think that Setsuna’s transformation from “bad guy” into a precure is so successful because of her supporting cast. Fresh introduces the three main cures as close friends prior to when the viewer sees them together on screen. From the get-go, they have an established, comfortable dynamic that the series then uses to provide a base for Setsuna to first infiltrate as an enemy and then ingratiate herself into as a true friend. Whatever minor conflicts pop up between Love, Miki, and Buki, they solve easily because they have an established understanding and love for each other. This allows the inner turmoil that Setsuna brings to the group from her own lack of confidence and harsh upbringing to be treated very seriously by the group of three.

    Fresh provides an excellent parallel to DokiDoki in that there is the established trio of Mana, Alice, and Rikka. Additionally, their dynamic to Fresh‘s three is similar in that both groups revolve around the lead cure of Mana/Cure Heart and Love/Cure Peach, respectively. However, where Fresh has a lack of conflict between the lead three, DokiDoki‘s established friendships are still in flux. Mana is unable to see how her actions can inadvertently hurt people she cares about, Rikka’s lack of self-confidence leads to jealousy and over protection, and Alice is best when supporting the group from behind the scenes, which isn’t nearly as successful when said group is still trying to cement their own interpersonal relationships.

    Building upon this, the most interesting part of DokiDoki (for me, anyway) is the developing character dynamic between the main four girls. It’s worth noting that Makoto/Cure Sword is already an outlier to Mana, Rikka, and Alice. She is already filling the emotional role that Setsuna played in Fresh. It has already been mentioned elsewhere, and here, that Makoto is actually far more comfortable as Cure Sword than she is as Makoto (in a classic Clark Kent vs. Superman fashion). Her character development relies on her ingratiating herself with the group of three and learning to be Makoto first and foremost, much like Setsuna had to learn how to be Setsuna instead of Eas.

    With Makoto already fulfilling this role, Regina can’t fit in the same way as Setsuna did, even if her arc shows her defecting and becoming “Cure Ace.” This leaves her in a precarious position where she simply just doesn’t mesh well with the main for, as they already have their own dynamic to figure out. She would be far better served as the selfish foil to Mana. While Mana’s selflessness causes harm to those around her without her realizing, Regina’s selfishness does the same for her attempts to be a part of the group.

    Personally, I’m really hoping for the Galaxia/SailorStars route, where Regina is the equivalent of Galaxia with Ai acting as the “star seed”/Chibi-Chibi, because of my love for SailorStars.

    1. Excellent point. I’m glad that you mentioned Setsuna’s fit with the rest of the girls in Fresh in comparison to Dokidoki. Just to make good with what Suite did in their iteration of the heel-face turn, the character dynamics weren’t as much in play in this series compared to Fresh. Firstly, Ellen is the third named PreCure in the group after Hibiki and Kanade awakane as cures Melody and Rhythm resepctively. The two-character dynamic is the main point in this series up until Ellen’s arc, and unfortunately, it falls by the wayside as a casualty to Ellen’s defection.

      That said, Ellen’s story of redemption takes on a more different and personal take, especially considering her three wildly conflicting identities as the feline songstress Seiren, the upbeat performer Ellen Kurokawa, and the driving backbone of the Cures, Cure Beat. There’s a trinity there of wildly different forms, each with their own set of personal relations. As Seiren, her closest friend is Hummy, the fairy mascot of Hibiki and Kanade. As Ellen, her friends are Hibiki and Kanade themselves (much to the dismay of HibiKana fans everywhere, lol), and as Cure Beat, she has a particular relationship with Cure Muse due to their allegiances to Major Land. It’s very self-centric, and even though it wasn’t pursued conceptually as Setsuna’s arc was. Once Cure Muse joins in, she completely throws everything into disarray (poor Hibiki!).

      Building on what you said, Regina doesn’t have a place in the PreCure dynamic the way Setsuna does as Cure Passion. That doesn’t mean that she can’t defect at all. As a secondary power figure like Candy, this chemistry issue is averted entirely, which allows for pre-defection Regina to be the catalyst that further drives and exposes those insecurities in each girl’s interpersonal relationships, and for post-defection Regina to be a symbol of hope of sorts, bringing together the feelings of all the PreCure together as they fight the final battle against Jikochu. It gives me shivers just thinking of it, actually!

      I love responding to what you have to say about the series so far, thanks a bunch for the comment AJ, as always ^ ^

  2. There is also the hotly disputed topic of Michiru and Kaoru taking on the Cure Bright and Cure Windy powers at the end of Splash Star, so disputed mainly because Toei doesn’t include them in the All Stars movies in favor of having Bloom and Egret make cameo appearances in their Bright/Windy forms at some point during the movie (after all, they had those powers longer than Michiru and Kaoru did, so they’re who the fans will mostly remember). So they really could be argued as having done the enemy-becomes-Cure thing, leading to four prior examples instead of just two like you stated.

    Some major differences between Setsuna, Ellen, and Regina (in addition to the ones in the above comments) :

    Setsuna had a very clear mission and an intense desire to accomplish it in order to make her master (Moebius) happy.

    Ellen had a clear mission, but it was a fake one, induced by brainwashing.

    Regina seems to have no goals whatsoever. She’s just out to have fun and be entertained.

    Setsuna had a huge conflict when her very real blooming friendship with Love came into conflict with her entire purpose in life.

    Ellen’s internal conflict was her undoing, as Hummy’s insistent pestering that they were supposed to be friends eventually wore through her brainwashing.

    Regina seems to have no real purpose in life – no driving mission if you will. She’s just out to live it to the fullest, and the only way she knows how to do that is by selfishly getting things from other people to entertain or satisfy her.

    That said, from her personality, Regina doing the heel-face-turn thing seems like a no-brainer at this point. She has nothing to lose by doing so (she herself said she couldn’t care less what her father’s doing), and Mana (and her friends, once they get convinced) will be happy to entertain her if she’s not being malicious. She even seems to have a genuine desire to find out what friendship really is.

    Ellen’s turning was simply a result of her brainwashing being nullified by her internal desire to save her best friend Hummy.

    Setsuna, on the other hand, had to literally give up her entire life in order to turn. That’s pretty hard to top.

    The magnitude of the difference in drama level here makes it really hard to call it any kind of real comparison in the story. That doesn’t make it any less worthy of a story, but I call BS on anyone saying it’s disrespectful of Setsuna’s story for them to do a face-heel-turn story with Regina. It’s not disrespectful, it’s just different.

    DokiDoki also seems to be taking a lot of cues from Sailor Moon. You’ve already brought up the Sailor Stars possibilities. There’s also a very interesting parallel to Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon (the live action version) as well. Hishigawa Rikki is, for all itents and purposes, Mizuno Ami. Both are ridiculously smart. Both have a father who is hardly ever (or never) around. Both have a mother who is a doctor and is always at the hospital at weird hours so they don’t see each other often. Both would not have any friends in the world if it weren’t for their best friend (Usagi or Mana) more or less forcing their way into their lives and making them become friends and introducing them to other people.

    Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon also had an arc where Ami was brainwashed and turned into a dark sailor, and that lasted for quite a number of episodes.

    The setup in Doki so far is almost too perfect to enable that plot line to happen here as well. We’ve already seen Rikka get jealous of Makoto for getting to spend more time with Mana than she did. She’s shown signs of it when Regina suddenly became friendly, too. Having that intense jealousy sitting around makes the rest of the brainwashing job easy. The rumors of Cure Ace’s appearance also came along with a story snippet stating that the Cures face a new more powerful enemy, and Cure Ace’s power will be required to face the new enemy. What if that new enemy is Dark Diamond?

    1. The end of Splash Star was an interesting choice, especially as it relates to meaning behind Michiru and Kaoru’s involvement in that particular arc, as well as its place in the history of the PreCure franchise. The response itself is a very different albeit familiar animal to what we’re seeing with regards to Regina’s characterization in the series.

      You have plenty of interesting points further establishing the differences between the three girls. I’m actually even more interested in how Ellen’s role in her series was examined. The entire brainwashing thing served as a very “easy” handwave to allow for her defection to take place. Nonetheless, she is still left with the burden of dealing with the weight of her uncontrolled actions off her shoulders. There are two particular parallel episodes between Ellen and Setsuna’s reaction to this particular concept, and it serves as a fascinating character study, so I’m really glad that you and AJ brought up both aspects of it.

      Where Regina fits into the equation is a very interesting one as far as the blank slate effect is concerned. I mentioned about that aspect of her personality as it mirrored that of the Kujous in both Max Heart and Splash Star. At the end of the day, I’ll see the Fresh/Suite thing come about to some capacity, but hopefully with a little bit of Splash Star thrown in there. The possibilities are endless, and that’s what’s making me enjoy this show as much as I have compared to other series.

      Funny how you mention about the Dark Diamond theory, as it is something that I’ve written about at length since Episode 3. The corrupted magical girl trope is a really great offshoot to the straight-up magical girl that we’ve seen many times, and somehow, Ami and Rikka are a fascinating pair of people in their respective shows. I mentioned how the spotlight on the secondary cure has dimmed slightly ever since the shift from the 2-girl cast to the ensemble cast, and Dokidoki is a great opportunity to address that without abandoning the format entirely. With the addition of Regina, however, the possibilities of this happening is quite intriguing, as we now have a character who is not only capable of turning Rikka into the fallen magical girl, but also capable of assisting the main girls in dragging her ass back to the Trump Kingdom or Earth or whichever place can return her to normal.

      The thing that makes me feel a bit hesitant about my immense desire to see a Dark Diamond arc is the fact that Dokidoki has set itself up so concretely as the “nostalgia series” which shouts out to precures past and present, the fact that this design space has not been explored before means that there isn’t any shoutout to make by turning Rikka into Dark Diamond. That said, I’m still holding on to my hope that this happens, simply because Rikka is too fascinating a character in relation to the rest of the cast (and even this week, in relation to Regina) to not explore the possibilities of temporary corruption. If Toei were actually to do this while keeping to the “nostalgia series” philosophy behind this show, there would have to be at least visual nods to Suite PreCure, as this show has been immensely visual in its references to previous shows.

      Always glad to have you comment on the blog, PCJ. All the best in your continuing work with Dokidoki.

  3. Awwweeee yeah! Regina is such an interesting “villain” and quite the ball of energy as well and the instant I saw her I figured they would do the whole Fresh PreCure thing with her aka eventually she joins the main cast as a precure in the future, but since you brought up the fact her name means queen makes me think it could work? I mean if we use the card deck theme of course or is Regina just a comedic themed boss like Red Oni of Smile or Wester from Fresh? Either way her addition to the series adds an extra boost in energy in terms of wacky personality <3

    I also thought Regina and Joe = siblings xD

    1. If Regina means Queen, and Joe Okada is a play-on word for Jooka da (I’m Joker), then there’s probably some relation between one or more of them with the Trump Kingdom, and the two of them being directly related to the princess would be interesting as well. Joe remains more of a mystery than ever, especially with the appearance of Regina, we can’t really count him out right now, hehe.

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