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Friday, January 31, 2014

Number 2 No More:

Ojamajo Doremi Dokaan had a good start, but the ending was so horrendous that it marks the worst season of all.  For two hundred episodes, these witches have been relying on magic to make themselves and others happy.  They have been working assiduously all this time in order to become witches.  But at the very end, they suddenly decide they don't need magic after all and return to being ordinary girls, which denies and betrays all the good they've done with magic so far, as well as all the work they put into being witches all this time, as well as all the good they could do with it in the future.  This single decision renders the entirety of all their decisions in the past moot, and reveals them to be the worst sort of hypocrites.

In addition, though they were supposed to be these all important friends to each other, the circle of friends broke up completely and everyone went their separate ways because they prioritized something else.  I get what they are trying to say, that friends are ultimately people who can mutually benefit from each other, so the moment your own self-fulfillment differs in any way from staying with a friend it's time to part ways, but it seems like an awfully cheap price to pay, losing all your friends, when you spent the last 200 episodes making them.  I guess that's just as far as friendship can go.  Since friends ultimately part sooner or later in order to pursue careers or marriage, they were always meant to be a temporary crutch for children only from the very beginning.  Once an individual is strong enough to go it alone, it's only natural to outgrow worthless friendships and never talk to any of the people who were the most important to you in your life for the last four years.  Who needs them anymore?  They won't earn you any additional money.

The fact that they abandoned each other upon graduating from elementary school isn't fundamentally any different from friends abandoning each other after graduating from high school or college, it just means these girls are more mature and stronger and thus could get rid of all human emotions and human bonds sooner than the rest of mankind ordinarily does.  The fact that everyone is on the same track and ultimately makes the same decisions as they just did doesn't change, though.

In the world of today, people are encouraged to share a lifelong bond with only one other person.  Kids grow up and leave the house, and friends apparently simply don't exist into adult life, so all that leaves is your husband or wife as a true human bond or emotion.  All other bonds are just for non-adults, who are still weak and thus live in a different dynamic than adult humans live in.  Parents, siblings, friends, the giant multitude of bonds you rely on as a child are eventually all cut away by the time you become an adult, where you get to be alone forever with nothing but your work to drudge away at every day.  Even the bond of marriage is slowly deteriorating across the world, as people delay marriage to later and later ages, have fewer and fewer children (thus fewer bonds with anyone as an adult), and divorce more and more often.  Ojamajo Doremi is trying to inform children that magic, like friendship, is a wonderful fantasy that can make you feel better when you're a foolish and weak child, but ultimately we have to stand on our own two feet and pursue careers alone and unloved.  The path to maturity is cutting off reliance on anything or anyone but yourself and your ability to make money.  That's why it was time to separate from magic and friendship, because they had become perfect adults, or in other words, perfect robots that lived solely for production and no longer had any hopes, dreams, or feelings of any sort.

There's something seriously wrong with the world today.  In the past, everyone grew up surrounded by the same villagers, who all stayed together their entire lives.  Like it or not, you would have an eternal and close bond with everyone else in the village.  Your parents would be nearby, as would be your siblings, your in-laws, your extended family, your friends, your children, everyone you ever met in your life would accompany you throughout your life.  Now we're encouraging 12 year olds to grow up and decide on a career and give up on all childish things like friendship or magic so that they can disappear into the maw of a vast, uncaring city of drones as a well polished cog in the machine.

To say that you can stay friends while never seeing each other is absurd.  Humans require constant contact and interaction with someone or their hearts grow cold.  This is true of even long distance marriages, much less friendships.  Therefore, once you've separated from a friend, it's THE END.  There's no after story.  There's nothing.  You could care less whether they're alive or dead, since it's all the same either way.  Another way of saying it is being lonely and missing someone who isn't there is so horribly painful that as a defense mechanism the heart simply shuts down any feelings for a person that can't be realized.  Since being friends with people you're separated from would just make you cry all day every day for missing them, you quickly learn to stop caring and think about them as little as possible while seeking out new, realizable bonds that are in your immediate vicinity.  The more you love someone, the more it hurts, the sooner you give in and stop caring about them.  If we are to believe that Doremi and friends truly cared about each other, it's all the more important that they never see each other or think of each other again.  What makes this so perverse is that if they had become witches, they could have teleported to each other's side at a moment's notice and hang out with each other as much as they wanted forever.  At zero transportation cost, everyone becomes a next door neighbor.  But they rejected this magic, because they didn't want to see each other anymore, because they didn't want to stay friends any longer.  The logic is just that direct.  If they had wanted to stay friends, they could have via the magic of teleportation, but they rejected that choice and thus their friendship.

What they chose to have instead is 'the memory of friendship.'  But this is a pretty flimsy device.  Who actually prefers memories of a friend over getting to stay with that friend and interact with them for the rest of their lives every day?  If the memories are that precious to you, why wouldn't you want to create more together?  If the answer is that relationships with people are finite and you can only get so many good memories out of them until they are squeezed dry, after which you are bored with their company and would prefer to just devour memories of when it was still fun, then I say they were no true friends.  I had thought Doremi and Aiko were true friends, but if they are going to use an argument like that, then I guess I was wrong.  In which case they shouldn't have chosen to treasure their 'memories of friendship' more highly than their friendship itself.  And this is what really gets to me, the ones who chose their parents over their friends, is that they had five friends and only two parents.  Each parent must, then, be at least 2.5 times as important to them as their friend, despite the fact that they spend almost zero time with their parents and almost all their time with their friends.  I just don't understand how that could happen.  Why do they care about parents they basically never talk to or see?  With magic, they can provide everything they want for themselves for free, so you can't make any arguments about needing their money.  They just straight preferred those few minutes with their parents over the ten hours or so a day they spent with five other people.  Let's say they're with their parents ten minutes a day combined, they have fifty hours a day with their friends combined.  That must mean a parent's company is worth 300 times as much as a friend's company.  Just how great are these parents?  Why?  Nowhere in the series did it show any such filial piety all the way up until the series finale.

To top things off, they even abandoned their own daughter even when she begged them to stay with her.  She's only two years old and, unlike them, has apparently not become a full-fledged robot with no feelings for anyone else.  She actually cared about her mothers and wanted to stay with them.  But they said she was already a 2 year old so she should act more like an adult and just pursue her career as a queen and work all day like they intend to do.  The absurdity of the situation is just monumental.  What happened to the mamas in Ojamajo Sharp who would make any sacrifice for Hana-chan?  Now, suddenly, they never want to see her again and consider it to be too much of a bother to preserve any connection to the witch world.  Even though Hana begged each one of them in turn with tears in her eyes not to betray her, not a single mother was interested in their own daughter's company any longer.  They had to be with someone else, somewhere else, because everything in the universe is a higher priority than the girl they had previously been willing to die for just a year ago.  Amazing.

Ojamajo Doremi would have been a great series if it had just been Sharp.  But with this ending, I find the whole franchise sickening.  The ending betrayed everything the show ever meant or said or did, from beginning to end.  It was just one giant hypocritical lie.  It was a complete betrayal.  The grandest betrayal I've ever seen.  Every single bond was betrayed by the end of the series.  Everyone was alone, and everything they worked to achieve they abandoned.  In the end it was a show about nothing.  An exercise in pure nihilism.

Does a show like that deserve any ranking at all?  Not really.  Considering the ending, this show is absolutely worthless, it's just horrid.  But if you just ignore the ending and concentrate on when the show was still good, I suppose it's still worth something.  I'll compromise and call it the 60th best or so.  Unbelievable.  The first third of Dokaan was really great, too.  I thought the ending would be full of hope and happiness.  I just can't even believe what I just saw.  I can't believe the message they were trying to teach the kids of Japan with this.  This was an unforgivable betrayal of all the rest of the series, all the show's fans, and morality in general.  I just can't believe what I just saw even now.

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