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Overthinking is, in my experience, one of the hardest habits to break. It’s also an emerging theme in this series, with both Coco and Urara getting their minds stuck on the hamster wheel of self-defeating thoughts. For Coco, as we saw last week, it comes down to being trapped in his head as he tries to figure out his relationship with Nozomi. He’s decided that they won’t work out without consulting her, and that’s something both Kurumi and Natts are very quick to point out. Natts, as Coco’s brother, can gut-punch him into staying on Earth for a while, and you can’t tell me that Kurumi didn’t know that the apartment Bunbee showed them was next to Nozomi’s. Coco has to take a chance and talk to Nozomi.
He is getting ready to do it, although Shadows attack right at the critical moment. What holds Coco back is what forces Urara to step forward. The hamster wheel in her mind is a little different from his; Urara is fruitlessly spinning in a cycle of feeling stuck between her old dream and what she thinks she wants to do as an adult. She believes that acting and singing are mutually exclusive, and acting seems like the more grown-up and worthy pursuit. This likely stems from the fact that she’s working with such a famous playwright/director; we’ve seen her desperation as she throws herself into a role that the director doesn’t feel she’s inhabiting correctly. Like Rin, Urara’s trapped in a cycle of “should” versus “want,” and she’s working very hard to convince herself that the two can’t coexist. Even though she can’t seem to crack the should/want divide between her interpretation of her character and the director’s, she’s just spinning endlessly, unable to move forward.
Urara craves outside appreciation – look at her disappointment when no one glances twice at her when she’s out with Syrup – it makes sense that she’d need an outside force to help her with her epiphany. Nozomi is driven by an interior desire to help and her understanding of what it means to hope and dream. Urara is moved by the gaze of others; she feels most valuable when she’s in the limelight. As a child actor, that was much easier to come by: she was young, cute, and talented. But now as an adult, she’s got a different sort of scrutiny on her (see her diet and Syrup’s reaction to it). Add a world of social media that didn’t exist back in the first two series. Being young, cute, and talented doesn’t cut it anymore and that’s a pressure that she feels keenly. It takes Syrup’s unremitting admiration for her music (and her) to help her realize that there’s more to life than just this one role and letting her natural effervescence out is the key to her happiness.
Smartphones and the internet form an interesting element of Bell’s attack this week. The constant connectedness of carrying little computers in our pockets can be exhausting and alarming, and Bell’s Shadows is ready to take full advantage of that. One mean comment can take over a discussion, and the infection of people via their phones gives a new meaning to something going viral – and shows that Bell is very good at changing her tactics. The new winged Shadows symbolize the way that the internet offers her a speedy way to reach thousands of people at once, expanding her sphere of influence exponentially. It also backs up the idea that Bell is somehow suffering herself: it’s not unheard of for people to post cruel things online as a way to express their inner turmoil, and Bell taking advantage of that is an expression of her own bitter emotions.
It should also make us very suspicious of Dark Night Light. I started to suspect last week that there may be more returning characters from earlier series, and I’m now wondering if they’re not characters from Splash Star – namely the Kiryuu sisters. Although they aren’t strictly villainous based on their actions at the end of that series, their streams here put them in a position for Bell to use their online fame for her ends, which has intriguing possibilities for their characters – assuming it is them. Honoka’s grandmother from the original Futari wa Pretty Cure may be popping up next week, which would deepen the franchise lore being used. With Bell’s reach expanding and her sorrow only growing, the situation is becoming more desperate. Coco may need to hurry up and give Nozomi more hope because she’s going to need it for this fight.