What other five-star anime are you watching? Vote on the latest episodes here: Your Score
I learned the hard way over the last two years that sometimes, no matter how much you want to, you just can’t make time for everything you want to do and everyone you want to see. Life gets in its own way, but knowing that doesn’t always alleviate the sting of plans unfulfilled. Nozomi and Coco are in the unenviable (but familiar) position of knowing that, and knowing that each other is busy, but still feeling the pain from not having seen each other for four years. Most of that falls in Coco’s lap – he’s a king, which is arguably a job that doesn’t give you time off, although I can tell you as a teacher that there’s precious little of that in the profession as well. Both of them know this, but it doesn’t stop Nozomi from feeling insecure or Coco from feeling guilty. They’ve had their relationship on pause, and it doesn’t look like either of them wanted that.
It’s a good metaphor for adulthood. There are times when you have to pick and choose, and it’s easy to fall into cynicism, which looks like something we’re going to see explored in more depth next week with Rin’s dedicated episode. But there have been hints of it in every episode thus far – Nozomi’s insecurities this week, yes, but Kurumi’s abusive work situation and her understated debate in this episode over whether she wants to remain where she is (or as an administrative assistant if you want to read it that way), and Komachi has been in low-key crisis about her writing career versus her family business from episode one. I’m sure that Coco and Nozomi would eventually have worked things out without Bell creating the current situation, but I also think that for their mental health, the bright side of the fight is that Coco got to go where he most wanted to.
With this as background information, it adds to the fact that the women getting younger to transform is more of a metaphor than anything. The title for this series comes from Cure Dream’s catchphrase, and Nozomi’s lesson about encouraging her students’ dreams implies that this is something that is largely viewed as a piece of childhood – you have your dreams of what you want to be when you grow up, and then you actually grow up. Some of us are lucky – I wanted to be a writer (well, and a lighthouse keeper, but I was at least 100 years too late for that one), and here I am, writing. But that kid who wants to be a streamer? He may not be so fortunate. (Major kudos for having a boy say he loves babies and wants to go into early childhood education!) Returning to being a teenager to transform could therefore be read as not a necessity in the physical sense, but more of a statement on their mental state: a Pretty Cure must have hope for the future in a far wider context than most adults in this show seem to, and so the women must return to that point in their lives to meet that condition. It’s less about physical age and more about retaining the worldview of childhood.
However you feel about Coco and Nozomi’s age gap (and in all honesty, I don’t think he’s that much older than her; probably about six years, which was still creepy in Yes 5 but not a big deal now), it’s nice to see them together again. They mean a lot to each other, and even with the awkwardness born of a lengthy separation, they both relax a bit just by being in each other’s presence. (At least until Nozomi breaks down in tears.) Given Rin’s statements about how they’re soulmates, it seems likely that their romance will get at least a little space going forward, and maybe that will help Nozomi recapture the hope for the future that she had as a teen. She’s going to need something to show Bell that humans deserve a chance. If those broken hearts on the combined Shadows are any indication, the ability to hope could be something Bell also needs to reclaim.