We’re watching more Doremi, folks! I only get one of these a month, so I know I should probably try and save them for a rainy day or something, but Doremi is too good and I am too impatient and so damnit I’m watching it right now. I made a serious commitment these past few months to dive into all the Current Projects that have been waiting too long, and having nearly caught up with all of them, I have earned myself some friggin’ Doremi.
Anyway. Doremi’s last episode was a terrific example of one of the show’s most satisfying modes: immature, farcical adventure. The entire plot of that episode was basically “screw Tamaki, she sucks,” turning an ostensibly Masaharu-focused episode into a referendum on how much our main crew hate Tamaki’s guts. At this point, I’m not really sure Tamaki will ever get a true “focus episode” of her own – those episodes are generally designed to humanize Doremi’s various classmates, and Tamaki works so well as a villain that that almost seems like it’d be a waste. Then again, Nanami from Utena is one of my favorite fictional characters of all time, and Tamaki is basically just Nanami in elementary school. Brats deserve depth too, but given Tamami stole the show last time, I’m guessing we’ve got an entirely new tale waiting for us today. Let’s dive right in to Ojamajo Doremi!
Our cold open is… the Hamada family! Addressing the camera directly, we learn “this athletic meet is the first, and last, one that all of the Hamada siblings can participate in at once.”
I like how you can see their familial resemblance so clearly even with Doremi’s deeply simplified designs. Because Doremi’s characters are constructed around such iconic, simplified profiles (a generally good policy when it comes to designing memorable cartoon characters), elements of consistency between the few details which remain stand out that much more clearly. Purely through the specific oval shape of their heads, the squiggle of their smiles, and the way their eyes are similarly bookended by lines above and below, it’s clear that these people are all related
Normally Doremi’s characters don’t address the camera, but the show is loose enough in its tone shifts and storytelling styles already that that doesn’t come across as abrasive, particularly since these cold opens have already been established as a sort of extra-narrative framing device
And our actual episode opens with… fifteen seconds of Doremi entirely failing to hold onto a relay baton. God I missed this show
I love how confident the show is in this gag. The vocal effect of Doremi just continuously wailing as the baton flips through her hands, matched against this very extended, super-deformed pan as she stumbles down the track. Doremi is a treasure
Kotake sparts talkin’ shit, and so Doremi just gives up on the race entirely. This leads into the introduction of our class’s member of the Hamada family, a pigtailed girl whose familial resemblance is already clear
Tamaki mutters angril about Doremi being in the relay, which, to be fair, why the fuck did they put Doremi in the relay
“Great Panic at the Athletic Meet!” Alright, it looks like this might be a bit more of an ensemble episode centered on a communal event, meaning that cold open might have been intended to guide our attention through a somewhat loosely structured episode
Like the summer festival, this is also an episode topic that greatly benefits from thirty episodes of character development. We’ve got quite the crew of fleshed out contestants at this point
A girl from another class tells Hadzuki about the Hamada siblings. Itoko’s the girl in the third grade with them, but they’ve got one kid in each of the first six grades
So if this is the only year they can all compete, I guess seventh grade is when you go to a junior high equivalent?
Pop is hard at work at the Maho-dou
I really like the relationship between Pop and Majo Rika. In spite of the somewhat rocky start to their relationship, Rika actually treats Pop like an equal, unlike the other girls
This episode feels particularly focused on incidental, natural conversational flow. Both the Hadzuki conversation before and this conversation at the Maho-dou are sort of wandering this way and that without directly leading into narrative beats, which on the whole makes this episode feel very immediate and true-to-life
Apparently Ai is going to train Doremi to catch the baton, somehow
The conversational flow also naturally combines with the running gag that none of these girls pay attention to Majo Rika or Oyaji anymore
I’m still not happy Oyaji exists, but I appreciate that the girls have already developed such profound disdain and distrust for him. One of the worst parts of pervert characters like him is that they often make other characters worse by proximity, since tolerating their behavior is also a pretty damning piece of characterization. But none of these girls have any time for Oyaji’s shit
“I really sense a bad item!” “That’s great. Anyway, Hadzuki, what are your plans for tomorrow?”
“Do itsumo ko itsumo” is one of those perfect expressions that sounds exactly like its intended implication. “Again with you assholes” just doesn’t have the same ring to it
The Hamada grandpa doesn’t adhere to their standard design, but is in his own right a great example of the importance of strong character profiles
Doremi’s failures are accompanied by charming exaggerated background effects, leaning into both the farcical nature of this conflict and Doremi’s general visual fluidity
“My brother will be a middle schooler next year.” Okay, so seventh grade is middle school
More visual embellishments like this big zoom on the Doremi family’s picnic basket. Doremi’s choices often remind me of Yuasa’s visual embellishments – he’s also rarely wedded to a consistent visual reality, and his works also feel visually indebted to children’s cartoons in very good ways
A quick beat acknowledging Ai’s father being there. This show sure has built up some strong emotional resources
Okay, it wasn’t just me – the Hamada family actually is very old-fashioned. Their dinner setup looked pretty formal, but I wasn’t sure if that was just my own ignorance
Hah, what the heck is with these high-intensity line-drawing cuts, where one of the kids putting down white lines leads to like, some kind of glowing summoning ritual
Oh, of course. The paint-dispensing trolley thing is the Bad Item, and it’s gonna screw up all the events
Alright girls, looks like we need Oyaji after all
As usual, this ensemble episode has less of a thematic focus than the more narrowly plotted ones, and is more a celebration of the existing cast
Pretty great that they now have Pop to run interference when the girls can’t get out of some activity. Making Pop an actual witch was an incredibly good choice – they got some excellent episodes out of Doremi attempting to secretly help her with witch powers, but Pop and Doremi work best when they’re on an equal playing field
I will never get over Pop’s hair-ears sagging when she’s sad
The neon green effect attached to this roller’s paint is a nice way of drawing a visual connection between all these events
They’ve really been ratcheting up the tension all through this second half, but I feel like the full run of all their transformation bank footage dampens it a bit. Still, they’re regaining energy quickly through the actual relay
That makes me wonder how Doremi’s target audience feels about the transformation sequences. I’m assuming those repeated, reliable segments are actually a fond highlight for young kids? In that context, it’s probably a more natural progression, with the girls’ classic signature moves leading directly into this OP-scored race
This episode is actually pretty clever in terms of its conflict structure. The actual stakes here are the Hamadas having a successful day, but that conflict is tethered to both a personal framing device conflict for Doremi (the relay pass) and a more dramatic but briefer sub-conflict (the Bad Item). Nested conflicts
Welp, that was a very breezy episode. It wasn’t the funniest and it wasn’t the most emotionally resonant, but it made strong use of a wide variety of side characters, and its control of dramatic tension was definitely very sharp. I was probably most impressed by this episode’s stable of visual tricks – Doremi is always willing to compromise on maintaining a consistent reality for the sake of dramatic clarity or humor, and this episode offered strong demonstrations of both those tricks, from the unique depiction of the Bad Item to the funny beats during Doremi’s training. Not the best Doremi, but still a fun time with a great crew!
This article was made possible by reader support. Thank you all for all that you do.
Bobduh , 2018-09-15 13:43:26
Content from http://wrongeverytime.com/2018/09/15/ojamajo-doremi-episode-33/