I just finished watching episode 4 of Happiness Charge Pretty Cure today and...I don't know if it's just me or the creators are actually wanting to do something that'll really draw an audience in by making one of their main characters very complex and flawed to the point where they do a really good job at replicating the thoughts and feelings that real life people do, because in my mind, they've succeeded in this episode, because I can relate to Hime and her struggles so very hard!
What do I mean? How about a little analysis and fan theories, shall we?
Episode 4 of HaChaPre is where Hime Shirayuki, the blue Pretty Cure and spoiled princess of the damaged Blue Sky Kingdom, goes to school for the very first time. The minute she steps into the classroom, she's literally so frozen with fear, anxiety, and trepidation that she can't even croak her own name. She tries to run away but the teacher catches her and drags her back to the classroom. After she successfully manages to write her name down, a huge stampede of classmates bombard her with questions like Civil War cannons and don't even give her time to properly answer. Hime is clearly overwhelmed, feeling like everyone's talking all at the same time and expecting her to just answer right off without considering how she'd feel about them bombarding her and crowding around her so much. Unable to take the pressure, she faints and runs to the nurse's office. Megumi tries to force her out, but her way of doing so only frightens Hime more and backfires on the red haired ponytail girl. Hime runs away again and hides in a shed, where it's quiet, safe, and away from the pressures and expectations of reality.
Yeah, I basically just summarized the first half of the episode, and it sounds cliche at first sight. But cliche as it may be, it's actually a very well done take on how actual shy people or even autistic people feel when they're being forced to interact with strangers and feel overwhelmed when things get too noisy or crowded or suffocating. Everything that happens to Hime is very familiar to both naturally shy and timid people, people from different countries, or socially disordered people, if not to people like me personally. Think about this for a moment: Hime's kingdom, or what little we know about it, has been taken over by the Phantom Empire, and she knows next to nothing about Earth life. Because of these circumstances, she has to go to another PLANET in order to both find help and seek refuge for the time being. Isn't this kind of like people moving from one country to another to escape perils from their home country (think Muslims, Koreans, or some Chinese)? Not only that, she has to go to a new school and adjust pronto because of said circumstances. I found her whining in episode one actually quite realistic, as all she was doing was letting off steam and venting her frustrations, not acting like a spoiled brat for the sake of annoying the viewers.
When she actually gets to school, she's so cripplingly shy she can't croak out her name, fearful of the huge amounts of kids in the classroom staring at her with mock evil faces (in Hime's head), and even after she manages to introduce herself, she's suddenly bombarded by classmates asking her strange questions left and right, acting like she's some awesome celebrity, and she's so inundated by their overwhelming presence and how sudden it is that she can't come up with a decent response. Better yet, all eyes are on her, complete with unsaid expectations, everybody's talking so fast they sound like they're squeaking, everything's all mushed together like ingredients in bread dough, and she feels like she's about to suffocate. Too noisy, too cramped, she feels claustrophobic and wants to leave, and, in the end, she's unable to do anything and finds herself fainting and then running to the nurse's office. Doesn't the whole scene look a lot like what autistic people experience when they're being exposed to excessive levels of sensory over stimulation? If they're in an unpleasant place with strange noises, strange faces, unpleasant feelings, and other unpleasant things they don't like and are exposed to high levels of it, they want to get away but can't because there's no place to run to or an outlet, and the only ways to make it stop are to run away or break into a full on breakdown. She winds up succumbing to her fear and leaving. But it doesn't stop there. Megumi, with the best of intentions, tries to force Hime back to the classroom, not realizing that she's hurting Hime more by forcing her back into that unpleasant situation, and Hime's just about had enough and leaves to hide in a shed on the school grounds.
Doesn't this entire premise look and sound a lot like what shy people, socially disordered people, people from other countries, and even autistic people go through in life? I don't think that's what the creators were intending with this episode, but by God, did they do a great job at recreating how others feel, or even how I feel, in unpleasant, anxiety inducing situations like that! This episode made me relate to Hime so hard because of all of this. See, I recently moved to another state, far away from everything I know and love, especially my best friends. My school is much bigger and more open in scope, the lessons I'm learning are much harder, I'm completely surrounded by complete strangers, and I'm literally drowning in both tsunamis of work and expectations thrown on me by people, even members of my own family, to the point where there isn't a day in my life where I'm exhausted, seething with anger, hitting myself in the face for whatever mistake I make in life, or breaking into tears at any little thing that overstimulates me. It doesn't help that I'm also shy by nature due to my own Asperger's Syndrome, and a lot of things scare me, like loud noises (specific: loud rap music, yelling, traffic noises), meeting new people, and being expected to be perfect when I'm not even though I try my gosh darn hardest to do so. It's gotten so bad I have to see both a counselor at school every week, and a psychologist every two weeks, and if I don't rectify my hitting myself, I may get kicked out of school. Also, like Hime, I also get verbal lashings sometime, mostly from my older sister, who tends to jump to conclusions and make a big deal out of any little thing I do, like eating the last piece of cake in the refrigerator or having an opinion on things. She also tends to treat me like all I ever do is mess things up and throw tantrums, and never ceases to tell me how inconsiderate or b****y I am and how I need to think a little. She also doesn't appreciate the things I try to do for her.
But I also liked the scene between Hime and the teacher, who was also hiding in the same shed, feeling like the kids he teaches don't listen to him. I liked how she felt comfortable talking to just him while alone in the shed (don't worry! It's nothing squicky or anything of that caliber!). I also feel comfortable talking to one person whenever I myself am alone with them. It helps to not have eyes staring at you and expecting you to do what they want you to do when you end up not doing so in the end and relate to someone who's going through the same struggles as you.
(more to come soon)