Hello folks, and welcome back to Wrong Every Time. Today I’m eager to dive right back into Ojamajo Doremi Sharp, and see what else is new with our hapless ojamajos. Our last sojourn with Majo Rika’s mother only served to remind me just how charming and generous this production truly is; whether it’s embracing the goofy flexibility of animation for comedy or stabbing at the heart with another tearjerker, Doremi always proceeds with absolute confidence, riding high on its mixture of sensitive characterization and gorgeous execution.
With the witch baby Hana consuming so much of our young witches’ attention, Sharp has been developing a clear thematic throughline regarding the perils of parenting. With Hana at hand, our girls are swiftly coming to understand the extraordinary strength required to raise a child – and having recognized that challenge, they’re furthermore coming to appreciate the struggles their own parents faced, and how they might share such burdens in the future. It’s a characteristically nuanced portrayal of coming to know your parents not just as caretakers, but as fallible yet dedicated human beings, and I imagine more lessons in that vein are just ahead. Let’s see how our witches fare in a fresh episode of Ojamajo Doremi!
Nope, no parents today. As our cold open swiftly announces, our ojamajos are now fourth graders, and a new semester begins today! That works for me; Doremi’s ensemble approach to exploring the girl’s classroom has always been one of its signature strengths. The diverse problems of Doremi’s classmates allow for all manner of unique episodic conflicts, while the accumulation of such episodic challenges in aggregate mean the entire class feels like people we’ve genuinely come to know, their incidental daily interactions building off dozens of personal adventures. Doremi’s classroom is not just a setting, it’s a community, and thus returning to class offers us the same sense of reuniting with old friends that it does for our heroines
Aw shit, and Pop’s now the store manager! Truly a meteoric professional rise for our youngest ojamajo
Our first cuts of the show proper demonstrate the far ends of Doremi’s visual flexibility. First, our establishing shot of Doremi’s house zooms in on her window, then zooms out and in repeatedly as she screams in sympathy with her panic. It’s the sort of ostentatiously unnaturalistic flourish you tend to only get in children’s anime – but that’s followed by an absolute flex in the other direction, as we get a perspective cut of Doremi running down the stairs, the camera spinning to match her. Whether it’s the unabashed artifice-revealing tricks of children’s cartoons or ambitious cuts reflective of its uniquely talented team, Doremi has a remarkable breadth of aesthetic flourishes
And of course, Doremi is late on her first day
“High School Student Aiko is ‘The Girl Who Ran!?’”
Ah, that familiar slope up to their school. It’s been too long since I wrote about Doremi, walking up this hill feels like coming home
“I’ve been friends with the two of you for a whole year now.” I can’t imagine what this show must have meant to the kids who grew up alongside it. The temporal dramatic effect of sequential, episodic fiction has always intrigued me – watching something weekly as it’s released will create a greater sense of investment than watching it straight through, as even though the time spent actively watching is the same, the time spent thinking about the cast is far greater. You end up “sharing time” with the cast in your mind even when you’re not watching, facilitating a greater sense of kinship with them
Onpu stops her car to warn the girls about being late, then promptly drives off. Cold as ice, Onpu
It’s rumor girl Nobuko and her perpetual hamster expression! An excellent side character
She’s currently filling the first graders’ heads with thoughts of giant robots beneath the school, though Aiko swiftly puts a stop to that
Oh my god, I forgot about Boy Detective Tatekawa and his Loyal Dog Doremi. God, this show has so many good bits
Doremi is desperate to learn the fate of Loyal Dog Doremi, but Nobuko’s already in the midst of a new work. A small interaction embodying the benefits of Doremi’s ensemble approach; Nobuko has learned to no longer tell hurtful tall tales about others, and now her positive method of embracing her creativity has strengthened her bond with all her classmates
Their classmates and teacher remain the same in their new grade. Japan’s style of maintaining class rosters between grades seems like a natural way to foster a sense of community within those classes; it makes it easy to understand why middle school graduations can be such tearful affairs, as you’re saying goodbye to a crowd you’ve genuinely grown up with
After class, Nobu hands Aiko the first chapter of her new book, “The Girl Who Ran.” Nobu seems oddly nervous about this one, presumably because the protagonist is an Aiko-alike
Hah, the character’s name is just Senoo Aiko. She’s a high schooler on her first day, and she’s late!
A boy who’s clearly a new version of Nobu’s own self-insert rushes past her, igniting her competitive streak. Oh gosh, is this story how Nobu essentially confesses her crush on Aiko?
The boy’s name is Nobuhiko. I’d like to think my own poorly-disguised transposing of friends into my adolescent fiction was more subtle than this, but I’d be lying
Doremi’s image of her high school self is “having a super cool boyfriend and working part-time with him at a steakhouse.” Never give up on your dreams, Doremi
High school Aiko swiftly begins crushing on Nobuhiko, but high school Doremi fends him off
Doremi doesn’t appreciate high school Doremi’s attitude, immediately attributing it to high school Doremi’s own romantic bitterness. Every Nobu episode is special, but having our young cast run commentary on their potential high school selves is a level of mad ingenuity I was not expecting
In spite of high school Doremi’s machinations, high school Aiko and Nobuhiko swiftly end up together, complete with a cheeky montage of staple romance scenes. Jeez Nobu, you’re taking a big swing here – and Aiko’s already shared the story with a friend, something she promised not to do!
Majo Rika pinch-hits as Nobuhiko’s grandmother, who forbids a member of her noble family from dating a commoner. A fun flourish of perspective: the grandmother character is written as shrill and overbearing, so Aiko imagines her with Majo Rika’s face and voice
Nobuhiko claims he’ll leave the family, but his grandmother captures him with her goons! Fortunately, Nobuhiko’s loving sister Hadzuki overhears
Damn, I’m really getting invested in Nobu’s drama. She’s got a bright future ahead of her
And right on cue, our fourth grader Hadzuki joins the critique team
Love how Hadzuki’s graceful transformation and request to “open Nobuhiko’s cell” conjures an exceedingly ungraceful explosion. And who’s writing this story anymore, anyway?
And now Onpu stops by, with her acting experience informing her that the story needs a greater climax than “and then they all lived happily ever after.” They’re gonna break this goddamn story, come hell or high water
And thus she immediately casts herself as the rival lover, a temptress dragging Nobuhiko away from Aiko. I’d applaud her generosity in playing the villain, but frankly we all well know that Onpu absolutely adores embracing villainy
She gleefully leans into the role as high school Aiko approaches, claiming she’s already in a relationship with Nobuhiko. Great performances and a keen understanding of drama; it’s no surprise Onpu’s getting so much work lately
Love Onpu’s look of delight as Aiko races from the scene. The girl can’t help her appreciation for the messy shit
Onpu’s just great in general. She comes from a position of fully embracing the self-absorption of childhood, an instinct further flattered by her work as an actress, but she’s also both working to improve herself and already charming in her savage snark. She embodies one of the lessons I found most compelling in the recent BanG Dream! It’s MyGO – that self-improvement is essential, but will not result in total personal reinvention, merely a new lens through which to assess our natural instincts
Clever transition of Hana’s tears precipitating an in-story rainfall
Aiko gets totally absorbed in the narrative, her investment reflected through an extended musical sequence of considering Nobuhiko’s words. I’m guessing it’s no surprise I’m loving this episode that’s all about the joy of storytelling, and how stories can reveal truths about our own lives
Onpu is swift to transition from nefarious rival to teary-eyed supporter. Whatever the story demands!
I like how Nobuhiko and Aiko, the only original members of the narrative, are consistently the two who are baffled by the others’ magical solutions
Their magic summons a pair of preposterous jet boots. Lovely cut of Aiko flying away and skipping across the water on her way to the romantic clocktower rendezvous
At last Nobu herself returns, demanding a rewrite that cuts out all this dang magic
She fortunately doesn’t seem too broken up about Aiko sharing the first chapter, and is mostly just happy to have a captive audience for her conclusion. And thus a happy ending is secured!
Ah, what a charming episode that was! Nobu episodes are always a delight, and having the ojamajos each offer their own contributions to her new story made this one even more endearing. I particularly liked how each of her friend’s sequences essentially reflected their own genre interests – Doremi’s blunt defense of her friend, Hadzuki’s gothic turn involving an apparent in-house dungeon, and Onpu’s melodramatic reflection of her TV drama expertise. This was Doremi at its most playful and self-aware, yet simultaneously an episode that celebrated the distinctive personalities of all our leads, as well as the close bond between Nobu and Aiko. I get the feeling that Nobu feels A Certain Kind Of Way about her “best friend,” but for now, I’m glad to see Aiko so appreciative of Nobu’s passion. Doremi continues to impress!