Aida Mana, the leading girl of DokiDoki! Precure, is a character that is ridiculously competent. The student council president, a very hard worker, and someone who is always willing to extend a helping hand to others, Mana is the type of person that parents and adults look at with pride and peers look up to with respect. But while she is so independent, Aida Mana is hardly the perfect young girl, and her particular character traits, and resultant problems, allow for different types of character exploration. Episode two of DokiDoki takes a look at one of these problems in an episode about being willing to ask someone else for help and the alienating effect of trying too hard by yourself.
The feeling of being “independent” is a nice one. Young people especially strive to prove to their friends and family (and themselves) that they are someone that can be counted on to get the job done. To be able to take care of oneself and not rely on the help of others is a state that they try to achieve because it gives off the impression of maturity and competence. After all, we are all going to have to be able to take care of ourselves one day. There is also a certain amount of satisfaction that comes from being able to help another person when they need it. Not because we want anything in return, but because it feels good to have the ability to do so. I remember back in my highschool years that I worked hard to maintain the image of someone who is confident in his abilities and is always able to lend a hand to others while never needing to rely on others for help. It was a position that garnered a lot of respect from my circle of friends, but I wonder if in doing so I ended up distancing myself from them because of it.
In DokiDoki, the relationship between Mana and her best friend Rikka sees some tension when Mana becomes a Precure and is told that she must keep it a secret to avoid endangering her friends and family. Rikka, who has been Mana’s friend for twelve years now, is perceptive enough to know when her best friend is hiding something from her, so she is understandably upset at Mana’s obvious attempts at covering it up. However, Rikka is also worried that her friend is overworking herself by trying to help everyone. Rikka expresses this concern to her friend by comparing Mana to a golden statue of a prince in a fairy-tale. In the story the statue asks a swallow for help so that it can give parts of itself to those who are in need. Rikka’s story is obviously a cautionary tale for what it may cost Mana to try to help everyone, but Rikka also uses it to convince Mana to let her help when the monster threatens the school.
What I love about this tension between Mana and Rikka and this particularly story is the way it illustrates the relationship between people. There’s a wonderful quote from the show Honey and Clover that speaks to the situation between the two girls which I have included below.
“She just won’t depend on me either. She says stuff like, ‘I can’t cause you trouble.’ But you see, every time she says that, I feel like she’s saying to me, ‘Leave me alone.’ It’s not like I want you to owe me something or push a favor onto you. I just want you to let me have a part in your lives.” Honey and Clover, Episode 17.
Rikka isn’t just mad at Mana for hiding something or for trying to do everything herself, what she is really upset about is the distance that is there between the two of them. Rikka wants to be a part of Mana’s life. She wants to be at her friend’s side and be able to share in the everyday adventures together with her instead of standing off to the side while Mana tries to shoulder all the burdens herself. She wants there to be open and honest communication between the two of them, which is why she is confused when she thinks Mana isn’t be truthful with her and tells says that “if you ever want to talk, be honest with me. I’m always here.”
Mana kept the truth hidden for a brief period out of a desire to keep her friend safe, but she was also hurting Rikka in the process (not to mention herself). After all, being independent and capable has its merits, but trying too hard to be this way can have the adverse effect of pushing others away. There is no shame in asking for help from time to time, and it doesn’t make one weaker to do so. And an honest relationship with friends and family really is worth much more than any impression of independence.