Ojamajo Doremi – Episode 19

Let’s get back to Ojamajo Doremi! I have no idea when this post will actually go out, but I’m currently sitting at the end of what unwillingly became a three week break from writing Current Projects articles, with a combination of family obligations and an extended preview week leaving me relying entirely on my buffer. That break definitely underlined the fact that these writeups are my favorite part of my work; weekly reviews and Why It Works articles are fun, but I love watching and writing about the stuff you all pick for me. It is extremely good to be back.

Anyway, reunions aside, we’re starting off with Ojamajo Doremi. Last episode was easily one of the show’s highlights so far, going to darker places than usual to illustrate the emotional complexity of loss. One of our stars was actually put in real danger, and though we arrived at a happy ending, Hadzuki made some serious wrong turns along the way. It’s possible this episode will follow up on that ending by emphasizing Hadzuki’s current lack of magic, and also possible it’ll be counterbalanced by a much lighter episode. Either way, I’ve come to have great trust in Ojamajo Doremi’s storytelling, so I’m on for the ride. Let’s get to it!

Episode 19

And we’re backstage at some sort of performance. Doremi’s softly painted backgrounds offering a lovely storybook world, as usual

Two shifty brothers in presumably circus costumes, wondering what they’re going to do about their money. Doremi continues to ramble in basically all directions

“We’ll have to do ‘that,’ of course.” I’m not sure what this exact sentence structure is in Japanese, but it’s super common and also always makes an awkward translation. Presumably there’s no more graceful way to translate this concept of a referred-to but unspecified object/plan of action, but its english equivalent doesn’t sound like a natural sentence, and also feels almost like inherently bad storytelling. Languages are weird

Direct continuity! We start off the episode proper at Hadzuki’s house, where she’s counting down the days until she gets her magic back. We also get a flashback explaining it, necessary for a show that’s generally very insistent on being quasi-episodic

This first scene seems mostly intended to emphasize her current powerlessness, and put a timer on that powerlessness, implying we’ll be focusing on some event she can’t seem to handle without magic

“Hadzuki-chan is Kidnapped!” OKAY I DIDN’T EXPECT THAT

And that title… was not an exaggeration. The two circus dudes are now casing her house and outright saying they want to kidnap a kid

These are extremely stupid criminals and Hadzuki’s a very smart girl, but presumably her generally kind nature is going to get her in trouble here


These assholes are pointing a gun at Hadzuki and it is not okay

We interrupt this kidnapping for a brief sequence of Doremi getting dunked on

And now back, with the kidnapping still in progress!

Hadzuki is taking this whole kidnapping thing with remarkable grace. She doesn’t seem scared at all, just regretful she doesn’t have magic so she can’t handle the situation herself. Hadzuki and Pop, the two actual superheroes of Ojamajo Doremi

The show really isn’t presenting this situation as particularly threatening, which is an interesting choice. This is a legitimately terrifying and far out-of-the-ordinary experience, but it’s actually presented as lighter in dramatic tone than last episode’s sickly kitten. This conflict exists in Magic World Space in spite of being an actual human world conflict, keeping the show from betraying its own style through stuff like the kidnappers’ silly manzai routines. I’m not sure how much I agree with the choice, but it’d also suck for this episode to suddenly leap into a totally different and unduly serious dramatic mode, so it’s tricky either way

Oh my god she’s correcting their ransom note. Hadzuki is too good

Alright, I’m sold, this episode is an unqualified good time. The implausible framing of this scenario just lets Hadzuki’s personality shine that much more

Hadzuki playing these kidnappers so well. She actually gets them to call Doremi’s house, and fortunately Doremi isn’t quite stupid enough to screw it up

Again, this episode clearly has chosen to exist in a fantasy space where normal rules don’t apply. “If you’re kidnapped, try to outsmart the kidnappers and get yourself rescued by your resourceful friends” is a terrible lesson, but being kidnapped is being treated more as a fantasy scenario here than an actual real-world conflict. It’s something that would basically never happen in an American show for kids, where we’re all collectively terrified of letting our kids interact with any strangers at all

The kidnappers just straight-up tell Doremi their address. We are not dealing with criminal geniuses here

Hadzuki’s little smile when her plan works out is so good

Doremi’s panicked explanation is very charming

Ai demonstrates her quick wits too, immediately realizing their call means Hadzuki is sending them a message

Majo Rika decides not to help because she has a heart of goddamn granite

And of course, the response to hearing your friend has been kidnapped is not “go on a merry adventure and attempt to outwit the kidnappers,” but this episode has 100% decided to be a wacky adventure, not an after-school special

Now Ai wants them to impersonate police officers in order to escalate the situation against two guys with a gun OH MY GOD WHAT IS THIS EPISODE I CAN’T SHOW MY KIDS THIS

These two really need Hadzuki there to stomp on their bad ideas. Granted, Hadzuki’s initial bad idea was what got them into this mess

Doremi’s idea of a policeman is extremely colorful but not terribly useful. This show is amazing

Ahaha Doremi’s head siren, her friggin’ face

Time for a car chase!

Jeez, Ai just only knows how to escalate the situation

What the hell, when did Doremi gain the ability to cast THE WORLD

Ooh, this brief sequence out of depth is really nice. It’s an inherently ambitious concept, and the extreme foreshortening and emphasis on Ai’s face give her a real sense of power here

Now they’re just casting entirely random shit. This episode is having so much fun

Hadzuki is apparently just having an insanely good time. She’s laughing all through these wild transformations of the getaway vehicle

The kidnappers are the Papaya brothers, a comedy troupe

“We got a chance to become stars if we could come up with 10 million yen.” Guys, you’re being scammed

“Hadzuki could become friends with anybody” is being resoundingly confirmed through Hadzuki becoming friends with her own goddamn kidnappers in the middle of her active kidnapping

Even Hadzuki’s corny taste in comedy helps her become friends with these guys. That’s a nice minor character trait being used to solid dramatic effect

Everyone forgets they actually have a gun

And it’s a toy gun, of course. An actual gun felt extremely out-of-tone for this show, and having it be a toy gun feels perfectly reasonable given their comedy routines

From “nobody can see us in our witch outfits or we’ll get turned into frogs,” we’ve arrived at Ai threatening to punish evildoers before shooting a spell laser beam directly at them in full view of everyone

Hadzuki having an unexpectedly touching montage of all the fun times she’s shared with her kidnappers

Majo Rika arrives to handwave the “hey, we spent this entire episode flaunting magic in front of normal people” issue

And Done

Well, that was exciting. This turned out to actually be a goofy cooldown episode after all, but not really in the way I was expecting. “Actual kidnapping turns into ridiculous car chase, everybody uses magic all the time because we’re just having a good time today” was certainly something. This show’s cavalier attitude towards its content threw me for a bit, but the episode was just so much inventive fun that I couldn’t really stay mad. And Doremi’s police officer uniform is almost as good as “Doremi, loyal dog.”

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