Ojamajo Doremi – Episode 13

Let’s dive right into some more Ojamajo Doremi! With Nichijou behind me, there are few shows that give me more consistent joy than Doremi these days. Upbeat and visually charming and stuffed with heart, Doremi and her friends ably demonstrate why us true anime patricians have migrated over to children’s television. I’m not quite at Pretty Cure yet, but I’m sure my conscription into the anime cabal is progressing at a steady clip nonetheless.

Doremi’s last episode wasn’t exactly a highlight, but it did see Doremi and her friends becoming more comfortable using magic to help others. Let’s see where the wands take them this time!

Episode 13

Opening with a very strange carriage being led across the sky by pink horse-ish creatures. After an episode that was almost entirely focused on mundane problems, we may be tilting back towards the fantastical side of the series

The characters’ own nonchalant attitude towards magic really facilitates the show’s focus. Many shows let their fantastical conceit become the one thing the cast cares about, but magic is almost always a side note in Doremi, reflecting its themes. Of course, that’s not a “better” or “worse” choice, it’s just the right one for a show with these priorities. Criticism can run into trouble when the relative priorities of a show don’t match your own – series with fantastical embellishments make it particularly clear, but there’s always going to be some element of a show you wished it explored more, even at the expense of its own focus

The camera focuses on the mysterious, obscured figure in the carriage

They’re already floating the level 8 exams! I’d figured it’d be a while before we returned to their magical studies like this. Trotting another exam out so soon runs the risk of the drama becoming mundane

Doremi’s dream allows for a combination of unique imagery and cost-cutting. These prism backgrounds, lol

“Level 8 Exam! Everyone Fails!?” Once again, it seems like the show will be emphasizing the importance of accepting that sometimes we fail. It can’t just be the dorky Doremi who we all expect to fail – sometimes our basic assumptions about our own competency will be rocked by the complicated world, and so it’s important to show that even people like Hadzuki will be wrong sometimes

The episode proper opens with Doremi repeatedly falling down things. I’m right there with you, Doremi

Lots of strong Doremi faces this time

Ooh, I don’t think we’ve gotten this outdoor shot of the school before

“The level 8 exam sounds pretty easy.” Another new narrative structure – placing us just slightly into the episode’s overall narrative, and letting us pick up the pieces of what’s happened so far. Slight structural experimentation like this does help keep the story fresh, and for this particular narrative it’s even more appropriate, since much of the conversations that would have led to “we’re taking the level 8 exam” would feel like retreads from the previous exam. Killing two birds with one stone and making sure this exam story feels different

Hadzuki tells Doremi “you don’t have to be nervous” and then gets a perfect score on her own test. Setting up the assumption of perfection, and the unfortunate lines of behavior it can prompt

Man, this episode is full of faces. The show’s also starting to use those block outlines of Majo Rika’s for a variety of other effects

Doremi’s gotta complete that level 8 exam for abacus

“You always fear the worst in your dreams. In reality, if you work hard, it’ll be alright.”

Not thinking you’re invincible is important, but it’s equally important to establish confidence, and the belief that you can succeed

The show has certainly found a solid way to make this exam feel different – focus almost entirely on Doremi’s feelings of anxiety, thus giving us something clear to care about

The damn piano music when Doremi transforms almost gives her away. I guess you can’t turn off your magic transformation music

“Well, if you relax, then you don’t have anything to worry about.” Emphasizing the balance between working hard and having the right attitude. Relax, but not too much

I really like this episode’s imaginative backgrounds for its reaction images. These vague, trailing paint smears are an interesting look

“Please write down the thing you hate most.” This seems like an odd way to get to know someone, but sure. I foresee no fiendish consequences for being honest here

Ai, the born grifter, senses the trick

“The lake on Mt. Fail.” Aw jeez, don’t call it that

They have to plant a flag

The exam folks are getting altogether too much fun out of tormenting these girls

Some questionable ghosts arrive at last

The show manages to make this into a pretty energetic chase scene without using basically any animation. Doremi’s willingness to bend our suspension of disbelief by wildly shrinking and enlarging flat character art to simulate movement into and out of the screen is an important trick in its arsenal. And the extremely expressive pieces of character art help as well

Ai’s figured out the trick entirely. Everyone gets a different kind of intelligence

Nice physical comedy of Ai and Doremi’s oversized reactions to the math test being contrasted against Hadzuki doing her little smirk

Another nice gag when they all turn into Hadzuki. The slow buildup of the spell casting bank footage actually enables the joke here, since it creates an expectation of payoff that’s then undercut because the spell doesn’t help

Welp, they beat ghosts and math, so I guess it’s takoyaki that does them in

Today Doremi has learned an important truth: adults lie

Eating octopus balls prepared by an actual octopus feels a little grim

“These are for my beloved Surumeko-chan.” This octopus man episode is taking a strange turn

“But in this lake, the octopus family and the squid family are enemies from long ago.” Oh god, we’re losing the plot

“All I wish for is that at least the smell could reach her.” Oh my god what is this entire turn of events

Haha the friggin’ insert music. We are really going all-in on this octopus-squid love story

They end up over time by three seconds because of the octopus adventure. This is what you get for letting side characters steal the plot, Doremi

They are really, really hyping up this carriage and its occupant

“Her Majesty.” Ah, that would do it. Apparently witches have a queen

Oh my god, our leads get an intervention by the queen of all witches. Nice save, girls

And Done

Welp, in the end they passed with no problem at all. Turns out this episode’s moral wasn’t about the importance of learning from failure – it was more about… octopuses, and… takoyaki? Also cheating is good as long as you don’t get caught. And don’t trust adults, they are trying to trick you.

Okay, maybe this one was a little morally jumbled. I suppose that’s likely to happen when an episode’s plot is almost entirely led by conflicts of the magical world, as this one was. But hey, even it was kind of nonsensical, it was still a lot of fun. Good luck octopus and squid, I pray your love comes true.

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