In trick-oriented playing card games, a suit is sometimes nominated as a trump suit, elevating those cards above the remainder of the playable deck. Technically, they still operate within the overall rules of the game; however, as they are markedly noted as superior, their actions outrank those of the plain suits below them.
Adhering to its playing card motif, Dokidoki! Precure offers us Cure Ace, “the trump card of love.”
The moment Cure Ace, or Aguri Madoka, arrives on the scene in episode 22, she is presented as vastly superior to the four existing Pretty Cures in terms of power and ability. Additionally, her actions present her as operating outside of the system. She is independent and only joins the group when necessary, appearing when she is needed and disappearing when she wishes to. However, much like a suit designated to trump the rest of the deck, Cure Ace absolutely moves within the rules established by the series. In fact, her purpose is to define and uphold those rules while furthering the remainder of the Cures’ development. Paralleling her role as Cure Ace, the character of Aguri is presented in a similar way within her daily life in terms of how she relates to the existing team of four. Aguri attempts to present herself as one who is serious, an outlier to the main group’s antics as friends.
In a way, although I am not implying that the series is offering a direct reference, Aguri reminds me a bit of Eriol Hiiragizawa, of Cardcaptor Sakura fame, as both are tasked with elevating the current abilities of their charges: the Dokidoki! Cures and Sakura Kinomoto respectively. Eriol is often seen lamenting the fact that he must cause Sakura pain in order to further her magical prowess, and deliberately removes himself from their after-school plans when he feels as if he is growing too close. Armed with both Clow Reed’s memories and his enormous magical power, Eriol only reveals his true intent following Sakura’s ascension as master of the Sakura, previously named Clow, Cards. He only hid his intentions and existence as Clow Reed’s reincarnation because of how it would have affected Sakura’s development.
Likewise, Aguri only opens up about her past as a Cure once she has put each of the four existing Cures through individual tests that additionally increase their power and abilities. She pokes and prods at their conviction, forcing them to consider what exactly it is that they fight for, and what, or who, they specifically love. In turn, these personal qualities, specific to Mana Aika, Rikka Hishikawa, Alice Yotsuba, and especially Makoto Kenzaki (not Cure Sword) allow them to develop additionally as Pretty Cure. Aguri may have been introduced as superior; however, her actions are never trumping or operating outside of the existing Pretty Cure system. In fact, Aguri as Cure Ace allows the series to further cement and define its own rules.
Additionally Aguri provides a direct counter to the now-forgotten Regina. Regina, in spite of the series’ many flaws in her introduction and execution, always interested me because of her specific ability. While other Jikochu Generals would rely on one’s heart wavering selfishly Regina, as exemplified in episode 15, had to power to turn an entirely unclouded heart into a selfish monster, affirming the idea that everyone is selfish. Aguri counters this by purposefully elevating or pointing out that which the girls’ individually love, and insisting that these loves are what will ultimately prevail, provided that one has the right amount of conviction.
Using the framework of Eriol in Cardcaptor Sakura, and the information provided through Aguri’s actions within the series, it is also interesting to note how Aguri received her renewed powers following the discovery of the missing Princess Marie Ange, and the completed collection of royal crystals, which are now in Aguri’s possession, allowing her to transform. Perhaps, like Eriol, she is guiding the Pretty Cure aided by another, Princess Marie Ange, as he was aided by the memories and power of his predecessor, Clow Reed. Regardless, I love their similarities, and how each of their charges blossom under their respective tutelage.
As a series, Dokidoki! Precure presents Cure Ace like a figurative trump card, asking the viewer to see this character, and her actions, as above all that came before, including the messiness of Regina’s entrance and exit. She works not outside of the system, but instead enhances it, allowing a wonderful rebirth for the series.