One Spell at a Time
Helping people in need, is what magic is all about.
In 1999, Japan was introduced to the latest magical girl story: Ojamajo Doremi. After six years, the U.S. has been given a chance to watch the wonderful wanderings of these witches-in-training.
Ojamajo Doremi is the story of Doremi Harukaze, a young girl who hasn't got any luck on her side. One day, she stumbles upon the Maho-Do (Magic Shop). Once inside, she meets the owner Majorika. Doremi realizes that Majorika is a real witch, and she says so aloud, against the urgings of Majorika not to do so. The word, once spoken, turns Majorika into a little green blob! Thus begins Doremi's adventure.
Doremi has to become a witch-in-training in order to turn Majorika back into her human form, although her secret identity doesn't last long. Doremi has been acting weird, so her friends Hazuki Fujiwara and Aiko Senoo, the new transfer student, follow her to find out what's going on. To help keep Doremi's secret, they become witches-in-training as well.
Each girl is given special items to aid them in their journey. The girls must first choose a Magic Tap that will allow them to transform. Additionally, they receive a broom to fly on and magic wands which consume magic beads. Each spell that the girls do takes one or more of these beads, but the beads donít come without a price. A traveling saleswitch provides the beads for the girls. In order to pay for them, the girls turn Majorika's dusty, creepy, old shop into a cute, little magic shop. They make charms to sell, which causes problems for them. The girls, in order to become real witches, must pass a series of tests. The first is a fairy test. Each witch is given a fairy that helps the girl to develop her powers. As the girls grow stronger, so do the fairies.
The original Ojamajo Doremi series lasts fifty-one episodes, but the story doesn't end there. In 2000, a second season, a movie and a manga were released.
Ojamajo Doremi Sharp is the second season, with forty-nine episodes. Two more girls join the crew as Onpu Segawa and Doremi's little sister, Poppu are given the opportunity to become witches as well. The five girls witness the birth of the future Queen of the Witch World, Hana-chan, from a flower. This season is set around the girls taking care of Hana-chan. They must protect her from Oyaji and the Flat 4. Additionally, the magic shop is turned into a flower shop.
The Ojamajo Doremi movie is only twenty-seven minutes long, but it is full of the antics that fans had come to know and love. Poppu picks a flower from the Queen's garden during a visit to the Witch World. Unbeknownst to her, the flower can grant any wish, good or bad. When Poppu and Doremi get into an argument, Poppu wishes that Doremi would lose her powers and become a rat. The wish is granted, and the rest of the girls must figure out how to turn Doremi back to normal.
The fun continues in 2001, with the fifty episode sequel Mootto! Ojamajo Doremi. Yet another character was introduced in the series -- Momoko Asuka, an exchange student from New York. She isn't very good at speaking Japanese, but when she becomes a witch-in-training, her language skills expand. Throughout the course of this series, the girls lose their powers; however, they wind up regaining them by the end of the season. They have to take numerous tests given by witches from the Witch World, and the magic shop now becomes a bakery!
The second movie was also released in 2001. In Mootto! Ojamajo Doremi Kaeru Seki no Himitsu (The Secret of the Frog Stone), Doremi and the others are on vacation at her grandpa's house when they hear about a stone statue that lies deep within a mountain that looks like a frog witch. They sneak out of the house in order to find it, and when they arrive, their powers disappear. Doremi also learns a piece of the magical kingdomís past by the movie's end.
The story continues on in 2002, when a manga adaptation of the Mootto season was made, and Ojamajo Doremi Dokkan! started its fifty-one episode run. In Dokkan, Hana-chan becomes a peer of the others. The spirit of Majotourbillon revives, and the girls must break her curse. With a little help, they are able to do their work.
A thirteen episode OVA series called Ojamajo Doremi Na-i-sho (Se-cr-et) debuted in 2004. The OVA details the summer between the Mooto and Dokkan seasons, and it is a bit more mature than the television series and the movies. It develops the girls more romantically, and it features Hana-chan as a baby.
Ojamajo Doremi, in all its forms focuses on emotionally developing the characters. Each of the girls has a unique personality. Doremi is very childish (the girls are very young after all), and she is treated as such by her sister. She isn't the best student either. Her parents argue constantly, which could be a part of the problem. Her sister Poppu, on the other hand, acts very mature and she wants to be treated more like an adult. Although she has her moments when she breaks down and begins to cry, that doesnít happen all too often. Hazuki is smart and part of a wealthy family that babies her all of the time. Aiko helps out her father as often as possible.
All of the girls have the responsibility to make sure that no one knows that they are witches-in-training, which adds up to some weird moments. Being so young, they aren't allowed to work, so they have to make up a story in order to keep working at the shop when the students at their school find out and tell the teacher. Their parents and the other grown ups are very proud of them, or at least of the heart wrenching story of why they help out at the shop. The relationships between the girls are strong, and they serve as a great part of the girls' personalities. The most dramatic relationship is that between Doremi and Majorika, as they just can't seem to get along.
For fans that can't get enough of this series, there are several goodies available. Everything from dolls to wands are available on the market for the right price. Diehard fans can even dress up as some of their favorite characters.
The stylishly cute animation is vibrant, and it brings the story to life. The story itself is delightful, but with some of the most lovable characters in anime and a dash of magic, it's no wonder that this series has lasted so long. After 201 television episodes, two movies, a thirteen episode OVA series, and two manga adaptations, this show has yet to slow down, as U.S. fans are now getting their chance to watch it. 4KidsTV began airing the show back in September under the name Magical Doremi. How long its run on American TV will last has yet to be seen, but if fans are as excited about it as their Japanese counterparts, then we should be seeing a lot more of Doremi.