Sunday, 10 May 2020

Living for Yourself in Precure

Episode 42 of Futari wa Precure tackle the simple question of "What is the meaning of Life?". Episode 42 starts with the girls eating Takoyaki outside of Akane's van and asking each other what they think the answer to the question is. The tomboy Nagisa jumps to "love", but upon questioning she finds she can't explain anymore than that. Her fellow Lacrosse team players come up with other vague notions such as "peace", "friends", "family", but none of them sound very convincing. In the end they resort to evading the question through comedy calling Nagisa out for her ultimate love of chocolate. When tackling important questions like these with no clear answer, comedy or irony is a common method to escape the question, and while some might see it as a dishonest coping mechanism, its often for the best to avoid these questions since usually the question is the one at fault for being unfair.

Then Honoka joins them and when asked she seems to misunderstand and explains the biological composition of life: water, proteins, amino acids and carbohydrates. The others dismiss this as just Honoka being autistic again, but who's to say if she's any more wrong than they were.

Meanwhile the agents of darkness are having a similar conversation in their evil lair. They decide that the only true meaning of life is themselves, and so they must only live for themselves rather than for anyone else. This is the tipping point to a major plot turn in the series, where the agents of darkness decide to rebel against the devil and work to gain the power of all creation for themselves, rather than for him. At this point they also free their pet parrot, symbolising their new freedom from their master. However this new freedom frightens them more than anything as they know the devil will now react kindly to this. And so they hatch a plot to defeat Pretty Cure quickly and decisively by splitting them up, and thus preventing them from using their special move.

The agents of darkness seek freedom

They move both girls into a sealed reality, and trap Honoka within a pocket dimension of chaos, which slowly degrades her form and will return her to chaotic matter. Nagisa tries for hours to find her, falling further into a despair and depression as she goes. The agents of darkness jeer at her, telling her she is truly useless on her own, and she will eventually fall into selfish despair just trying to save herself. She rebukes this saying that she wouldn't even be here looking for Honoka if she didn't care for Honoka's life even more than her own. The darkness laughs. "All you are really doing is trying to stop this feeling of helplessness. Everything you do is for your own sake." Personally, this expression reminds me of many conversations I've had. Where it's almost impossible to find a moral act that is not selfish in some way.

Honoka trapped and dissolving

Needless to say she rejects this notion and destroys the pocket dimension, rejoining with Honoka in and emotional scene. They join forces once again and, after probably the best fight scene of the series, unleash their ultimate attack: "Rainbow Storm" and send the demons back from whence they came. The girls live for one another and for the power of good, rejecting their Randian Objectivism in favour of a Romantic ideal of higher morals.

While that was a great episode, the answer put forward for the initial question is still vague, and really just a rejection of purely living for oneself. The next episode puts Nagisa back into the real world where she must put her new ideal to the test. Another girl admits to Nagisa that she has fallen for Fujimura-senpai (Nagisa's crush). Initially shocked, she eventually agrees to help the girl to confess her love as to align with her rejection of Randianism. Honoka realises what Nagisa is doing and confronts her about it. She calls Nagisa out for using a faulty moral premise as a form of escapism: rejecting her true feelings on the false pretense of altruism. Nagisa eventually agrees, learning that one cannot always reject selfishness and acting selfishly, or for your own gain at the detriment of others must sometimes be done and isn't inherently bad. Luckily before she needs to act the other girl is rejected by Fujimura.

Nagisa sums it up as the meaning of life for her is her own soul. To keep her own emotions as the most important thing, and make judgements based on her own feelings. While this may seem similar to an objectivist outlook, the difference is that she must avoid both ignoring her own emotions, which means often putting others before herself as to keep a clean conscious and avoid guilt. It is basically a codification of both Precure's actions so far, where in acting completely in line with their emotions they can never be in the wrong.

This nice revelation sets the stage for the final arc as the agents of darkness attempt to make themselves into God, while the Devil himself is soon to awaken also. Now that Pretty Cure has reached inner completion, they are ready to face evil without hesitation.

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