Written by: Gabriel Castillo
Published on: December 16, 2021 at 18:30 PHT (GMT+8)
Today, let’s look back at a magical girl series that went beyond magic: Ojamajo Doremi. This television (TV) series created by Toei Animation aired from 1999 to 2003 which spurred on a number of original video animations (OVAs), films, manga adaptations, video games, a light novel series, and a ton of magical girl merch. The series celebrated its 20th anniversary last year with the film Looking for Magical Girl Doremi which will be re-broadcasted this coming New Year’s Eve.
Let’s take a quick look into the series, what made it so magical, and how it went beyond magic.
Brief Synopsis (AniRadio Rewrite)
The story revolves around Doremi Harukaze, a third-grade, self-proclaimed unluckiest pretty girl, attending an elementary school in the town of Misora. On her way home one day, she happens upon a magic shop owned by Majo Rika — who looked like a witch from head to toe. By exposing the owner as a witch, Doremi unknowingly activates a curse that turns Majo Rika into a frog.
With the desire to be un-frogged, Majo Rika gives Doremi the ability to cast magical spells and turns her into a witch’s apprentice. The young apprentice must pass nine tests to become a fully-fledged witch that can turn Majo Rika back into her normal form. Unfortunately, she’s quite clumsy even with magic! She soon recruits her besties, Hazuki Fujiwara and Aiko Seno, and her sister Pop Harukaze to become apprentices as well. And from there, their adventures begin.
Magical Girl Series that Didn't Rely on Magic Alone but Still Made Magic
The world’s been blessed by several giga popular and successful magical girl series like Sailor Moon, Pretty Cure, and Card Captor Sakura. These series typically followed a similar episodic formula: some baddie appears to start things off, they make a mess, and then the girls show up, transform, and duke it out with the villain. The formula, which was likely popularized by Sailor Moon, truly worked with fans and allowed for entertaining conflict. Who doesn’t love a good transformation sequence followed by a solid battle?
Well, Ojamajo Doremi was a magical girl series that took a step back from this formula and worked things out differently. There was no real, overarching villain for most of the series that hounded the heroines. And when faced with conflict, the witch’s apprentices opted to go for a more difficult, but more heart-felt solution that didn’t even involve magic.
Magic could not replace the building of bonds, strengthening of relationships, and the growth of a caring community in this show; as cheesy as they sound, Ojamajo Doremi showcases these concepts really well. And it’s not just the main cast of characters that contribute! The other characters, including parents and teachers, have their own dynamics that add-on to the show’s charm.
Although this series was created for a younger audience, there were surprisingly deep themes and serious undertones scattered throughout the series. Doremi and her friends tackled some difficult issues like divorce, racism, and societal norms while also going through lighter themes like struggling with puberty, making friends, and many others. Some themes might seem too heavy for a child but the show does an excellent job of framing these issues from the perspective of the young main characters without losing depth and meaning.
The interspersed weighty themes did not lessen the show’s overall vibe (and goal really). Ojamajo Doremi was a fun series that was such a joy to watch. The art style wasn’t going for a hyper-realistic, Shinkai-esque production. The animation and designs were simple but they worked with the show’s tone and the characters’ quirky, fun feels.
Rundown of the Series and Other Works
Ojamajo Doremi’s run was quite long from 1999 to 2003 and aired a humble 201 episodes over 4 seasons. Here’s a brief list of the original TV anime’s run plus a few extra projects that followed which you can check out.
Ojamajo Doremi (1999-2000): 51 episodes
Ojamajo Doremi # (2000-2001): 49 episodes
Motto! Ojamajo Doremi (2001-2002): 50 episodes
Ojamajo Doremi Dokkan (2002-2003): 51 episodes
Film - Ojamajo Doremi #: The Movie (2000)
Film - The Secret of the Frog Stone (2001)
Film - Looking for Magical Doremi (2020): Celebrating the franchise’s 20th Anniversary to be broadcast on December 31, 2021 on NHK E-Tele.
OVA - Ojamajo Doremi: Na-i-sho (2004)
Light Novel - Ojamajo 16 (2011)
There's a lot to watch but If you’re looking for a light series that can entertain both parents and children, then Ojamajo Doremi is the show for you! Magical girl series in the future can learn a lot from this quaint show that goes beyond any magical powers.