Though it’s hardly the most well-known of the world’s anime, Ojamajo Doremi is both a big success in Japan and in many ways a real archetype of a series. There are a lot of magical girl series, but increasingly they’ve been in the Nanoha mould: aimed primarily at young men and just slightly creepy. Even Cardcaptor Sakura falls into this subcategory. But Ojamajo Doremi is actually a magical girl series meant for young girls – with a fanbase of young men, without doubt, but certainly not discernibly catering to them or slipping in fanservice. About the closest I’ve seen when it comes to relatively recent anime has been Demashita! Powerpuff Girls Z, but even that certainly wasn’t ashamed of slipping in the ecchi.
Ojamajo Doremi is the story of a daft, slightly bratty but adorably clumsy little girl called Doremi, who one day happens upon a witch. In the magical world of the story, when a witch is identified, she gets turned into a frog. The only way to reverse this is for the witch, Majo Rika, to take Doremi on as an apprentice. Over the course of the series, Doremi’s best friends, tomboyish Osaka native Aiko and bookish Hazuki join her as apprentice witches, along with Doremi’s little sister Pop. A rival later appears, the seemingly perfect preteen idol Onpu, but she has a dark streak and a careless attitude to magic that may just come back to haunt her.
For the most part, Doremi is a cute and whimsical little story, with lots of character-based comedy, a very sweet art style and lots of throwaway but often slightly touching episodes. The girls’ magic can often solve small problems experienced by their classmates, or when used incorrectly, get them into pickles they need one another’s help to get out of. Witching exams, the responsibility of working for a living and relationships with other family members are recurring themes, and of course there is a bittersweet end to the series that aims to be a cutesy tearjerker and ought to at least raise a smile.
The first season – of four – ran a full twelve years ago, now, but remains pleasant to watch, slickly written and likeable. Apparently there was a horrible-sounding localised dub, but it’s not something I’m interested in seeking out.
Season 2: link
Season 3: link