Ojamajo Doremi – Episode 15

Alright, let’s get back on the Doremi train. I’ve recently been playing a whole bunch of Nier in order to get context for Automata, and I could really use some happiness to counterbalance all of the sads. Doremi’s cast certainly experience their share of problems, but the show is so suffused with optimism and love of its characters that pretty much every episode is an inherent pleasure. The world could definitely use more unabashedly joyful things!

Last episode saw us learning about two members of Doremi’s class at once, in an episode where Doremi, Hadzuki, and Ai had almost nothing to do. I’m totally cool with that style of story; our three leads are entertaining enough that I enjoy just watching them act as commentators, and it’s important for the show to demonstrate how people solve problems without magic. Let’s see what our clumsy witches get up to this time!

Episode 15

This episode’s focus character is… Majo Rika?

MAJO RIKA VERSUS POP?!? This is gonna be a very good episode

Majo Rika getting her usual thick-lined reaction faces. Rika’s gonna be getting a workout this time

Pop is a very small person

Welp, guess she was out and up to no good again

Pop really is much more put together than Doremi. Even the confidence with which she pulls off lies, or jumps from lies to utterly unrelated arguments, demonstrates her maturity in a way

A reminder that Doremi’s parents actually know about her job. Like the speed with which Hadzuki and Ai learned about being witches, having Doremi hide her job from her parents for dozens of episodes would really contradict the positive themes of this series. Lots of the assumptions that shows about teenagers take for granted can’t really work in a show like this, because you can’t have your protagonist’s daily life hang on constantly lying to your parents if you’re trying to set an actual example for kids

So is Pop going to investigate Doremi’s alleged job herself, then?

“Majo Rika Goes to Kindergarten”

This already looks to be another episode that’s very interested in portraying reality with some depth, as demonstrated in the consistent use of windows

The girls lamenting their child labor woes

“When a person is mean like that…” “…judgment day will come.” You gonna get it, Rika

And Pop arrives

“I came here to check Doremi’s work.” Yep

Ai and Hadzuki have actually gotten pretty good at making little clay trinkets. It is not entirely inconceivable that someone would want to buy something at this store

Doremi and Tiny Doremi are pissed

Pop discovers Majo Rika, and thinks she’s an adorable doll

“I’m buying this.” And so begins Majo Rika’s life of servitude

The faces are really abundant this episode. It makes sense – Pop certainly knows how to grind Doremi’s gears, which results in lots of great, expressive fights

Majo Rika quickly segues from being terrified of being sold to being annoyed about only being sold for one thousand yen

“I never expected Pop to save her allowance.” Once again Doremi is outmaneuvered by her clever baby sister. A good moral there – “hold on to your money, because it might eventually let you dunk on Doremi”

The girls are worried, but Rika’s fairy actually tells them that Rika can take care of herself. Be good to your fairies girls, they can always betray you

Pop’s room is as festive as you’d expect

Majo Rika has caught Doremi’s person-in-mouth-itis

I’m not sure how much I’ll actually have to critique about this episode if the whole concept is “Majo Rika gets tortured by Pop and it’s great”

Though I suppose it’s inherently a good thing for an episode to focus on Pop having her own internal world, daily concerns, and social life. It’s easy for kids to see their siblings as just a part of their own life, and dispelling that impression is a somewhat different task from helping kids learn to respect the interiority of their classmates

Ojamajo Doremi’s commitment to depicting all of its characters as distinct people extends to Pop’s class as well. Everyone here has their own unique design

Oh my god Pop has an entire male fanclub what the hell

And they’re lead by the younger brother of the soccer-playing boy from a few episodes back. Like Nichijou, an understated part of Ojamajo Doremi’s appeal is how it carefully constructs not just individual characters, but an entire town of people with a variety of distinct relationships

Meanwhile, Majo Rika gets attacked by ducks, because why not

Rika’s fairy finally learns the truth, that Rika can’t actually get out of this situation

This is one of the show’s most morally unfocused episodes yet – it’s mostly just a wacky adventure with Rika and Pop. Like last episode, it demonstrates that Doremi doesn’t really need to be the focus anymore. Her world is rich enough that side characters can easily carry an episode

This episode’s focus on depth continues – Pop running into the screen, shots emphasizing the length of Doremi’s classroom. Presumably just different directors bringing their own vision to Doremi’s world

Now Lala gets to spend some time being ridiculous

Hadzuki demonstrates she is a master of charades

Dodo covers for Doremi so she can investigate. These kids get away with a whole lot of bad ideas

Now Pop’s getting run around by the bullies. What the hell happened to her dedicated bodyguards?!?

“That won’t be necessary. I’m not going to lose to you.” Pop is so good. I’m glad this episode gives her a chance to be as heroic as possible

Oh my god, Doremi fumbles summoning her own goddamn wand. I’m sorry Doremi, you’ll be as cool as your sister one day

This episode’s focus on shots with meaningful depth really pays off during this tree climb. There’s a real sense of space here, which amplifies the sense of danger

And here’s another great use of depth to create tension, with a shot framed beside Doremi’s wand looking up at her spot on the roof

Kimitaka picked a fight with the wrong kindergartner

Really didn’t expect Pop’s second episode to end in a high-stakes chase on a straining tree branch. Pop gets all the good material

I love the dramatic framing of Plush-chan’s tragic death

Oh my god, all the kids are crying. This is adorable

Gorgeous evening shot of the magic store. Love this new set of rich colors for the fading light

“I might as well ask Pop to be a witch apprentice.” Pop is legitimately too competent for that to work in a dramatic sense

And Done

Welp, that episode was pure fun from start to finish. Pretty much foregoing any sort of clear moral point, it just let Majo Rika have a terrible time and Pop have a very exciting one, with very entertaining results. Pop is an awesome character that the show can only use sparingly, and this was a great application of her almost unbelievably put-together personality. Nice going on the save, Doremi, but Pop owned this one.

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