“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.” – 1 Corinthians 13:4
Distance is often said to be one of the most daunting obstacles in a romantic relationship. I happen to be an unfortunate subscriber to that school of thought. My wonderful love of only a few months (but who I’ve known for practically forever) is separated from me by such a distance, and even though our relationship has grown in such astronomical directions, the need to be separated in the interim due to life responsibilities is a tough obligation to fulfill.
The story of the romance between Jonathan Klondike and Princess Marie-Ange, in this episode of Dokidoki! PreCure, embodies this particular sentiment in its fullest. Despite the straightforward tanabata-esque nature of their relationship, the story that Joe tells to Mana is quite meaningful, not only in regards to the circumstances that lead to his separation from his lover, but also the way the story is set up throughout the entire episode, leading up to that moment under the tree between him and Mana. Even though she’s already heard the story from Cure Sword, Mana’s interest in Jonathan’s story is based specifically in the romance of it all. She says, “I want to hear the story from her lover.”
And so he tells her, resulting in a wonderful flashback sequence that not only visually reiterates the fall of the Trump Kingdom akin to Cure Sword’s perspective, but it adds another layer of romantic meaning because of Jonathan’s perspective as well. The sequence starts off with Marie-Ange playing karuta at the palace, and the poem card that is read is deliberate in its inclusion:
Though a swift stream is
Divided by a boulder
In its headlong flow,
Though divided, on it rushes,
And at last unites again.
Dokidoki does a fantastic job at adding drops of meaning through background details, both visually and aurally, and the touch that the show added through this particular card reference is a natural follow-up to the meaningful tones in episode 14. Unlike that particular episode, this week’s karuta reference is an isolated incident, making its inclusion much more pointed than weeks before. The poem above, the seventy-seventh in the Ogura Hyakunin Isshu, implicitly expresses a vow between parting lovers who will eventually reunite. This relates directly to Jonathan’s romance with Marie-Ange before they even get together.
The karuta scene, among others, not only provides the visual backdrop of the forced distance between the two lovers, but it also ties in the significance of the royal crystals and how they came to existence in the human world. Each crystal, save for the one found in Makopi’s script, was presented visually in some form during the sequence, indicating the Princess’s fond memories of the palace. She meets Jonathan while carving a statue in the courtyard. She goes on a train ride with him when they fall in love. She sends a yellow rose to him with her thoughtful letter when they are forced to part. These crystals correspond well with Marie-Ange’s memories of not only the Trump Kingdom, but of Jonathan himself.
The visual transition between the lover’s time spent together and the fall of the Trump Kingdom ties back to the transition used in the same backstory told by Cure Sword when they are banished to the kingdom itself. This particular transition effectively serves as a visual reinforcement of the intent and meaning behind Jonathan’s words as he waits patiently for the Princess. He speaks honestly when he mentions that “Cure Sword wasn’t the only one who couldn’t save anyone.” They are born of the same consequence, even though their respective loving feelings for Marie-Ange are varied in the nature of its reciprocation.
Cure Sword once again is depicted fantastically as Cure Sword rather than Makoto Kenzaki. Unlike the visual representation of her distance from the rest of the girls, her feelings regarding her relationship with the Trump Kingdom is explicit in her direct dialogue with the rest of the group. The majority of her lines throughout the show are highly disapproving and at times hostile in nature. Her first line at the beginning of the episode contrasts nicely with the first lines spoken by the other girls in the same scene at the Solitaire antique shop:
Rikka: There’s so much to ask, I don’t know where to begin!
Alice: So you know about Ai and the Royal Crystals?
Mana: Is it true that you’re the princess’s fiancé?
Makoto: I never heard a word of this from the princess!
Sword’s line comes a little bit later than the three girls who spout their reactions at once when they are prompted to ask Jonathan anything about his backstory. She is at once hostile and threatened in her position as Ann’s guardian. Compare this to her confrontation with Regina at the beginning of episode 16. When Regina appears to the group of girls, requesting friendship with Mana, she essentially threatens Makoto’s tumultuously developing relationship with the group, prompting Makoto to transform to her more natural form, Cure Sword, forcing Makoto to retreat to her comfort zone. What makes Sword’s role in this particular episode so enthralling is that she is emotionally threatened once again, but this time in her most natural persona. As Cure Sword, her relationship with Marie-Ange is brought into question, and on top of the difficulty that she faces with regards to the fall of the Trump Kingdom, she perceives herself to have lost everything at this point.
This is what makes her reactions to the situation through her dialogue remarkably efficient in its delivery because of the weight of her situation and her inability to reconcile her feelings with that of Jonathan’s. They are both separated from an individual that means so dearly to them, and they are both deprived of the opportunity to be with Marie-Ange physically. This manifests into Sword’s insecurities as she shows her wavering faith in reuniting with the Princess, which resonates emotionally with Jonathan after he tells his story of his lover. They both wish to meet the Princess again, and the only other constant other than Jonathan’s unpredictable actions is his unwavering love for Ann and his faith in the PreCure. It’s how he is able to “show the way” for them as Mana describes, and it’s how he is able to reach out to a rival of love and rekindle Sword’s desire to save the Trump Kingdom. When asked if his story was enough to reassure her that they will meet with the Princess again, Makoto responds with an emotionally resounding yes.
Dokidoki is trying to say a lot of things at once with the myriad of plot details that it has introduced so far. How exactly it will manage to tie them smoothly with each other as the series continues remains to be seen; even with a successful resolution of every single plot point (not too likely), there is still meaning to be found in individual moments and episodes such as these. This episode spoke to me about how distance in a romantic relationship is a cruel catch-22; the unfortunate distance that prevents two people from loving each other more can only be conquered by the patience and kindness that can only be found in love itself. Despite this, the strength that Jonathan shows is an entirely different one than that of a PreCure. Even though we are not shown his full abilities as a knight of the Trump Kingdom, his greatest strength is his unwavering faith that he will one day reunite with his most beloved. I shall be meeting mine soon enough, and even though it will only be for a brief moment, I have an unshakable feeling that this meeting will kindle me with the hope that one day I will become someone capable of exercising that patience and kindness that will allow me to overcome such daunting distances.
Jonathan, you are a wonderful human being, and you deserve all the love in the world from your Ann. I wish you all the best.