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by Richard Eisenbeis,

Looking for Magical DoReMi

Looking for Magical DoReMi
Three 20-something women from across Japan find themselves “stuck” in their lives. Some of their issues are professional, others are personal. For a bit of self-care in this trying time, the three women independently decide to take solace in an old anime they loved as children, Magical DoReMi, and travel to one of the real-world locations featured in the anime. There they meet each other by chance—and their shared love for Magical DoReMi helps them form a friendship that will change their lives for the better.

As you probably noticed from the summary above, despite the film being titled “Looking for Magical DoReMi,” it's not actually a film about magical girls fighting an evil queen or anything like that. Rather, it's about three women who just happen to be fans of the early 2000s Magical DoReMi anime and focuses on the all-too-real problems they face in their everyday lives.

The first is a Reika, a part-time worker. She has no stable job and no dream she is actively pursuing. She lives alone in a small apartment and her “boyfriend” regularly steals from her. While only 20, she is trapped in the past—plagued by the fact that her dad walked out on her mom and that her mom died shortly after Reika got out of high school. Her guilt and abandonment issues keep her locked down in a place she has long since outgrown.

The second woman is the 22-year-old Sora. Currently a college student, she is being pressured by her parents to follow in their footsteps by becoming a teacher. However, during her on-the-job training, she became caught up in trying to help a special needs child and now wonders whether she can do the job—or if she even wants to.

The final woman, and the oldest, is 27-year-old Mire. An office worker at a prestigious international trading company, she was hired due to the fact she was born in Japan but raised in America. Unfortunately, her male colleagues are less than interested in her opinions and the fact that she is both a woman and speaks her mind leads to her being belittled by her bosses and coworkers passive-aggressively—even as they take credit for her achievements.

While all three women are quite different—in location, personality, and in the problems that they face—they share the common issue that they are stuck at critical points in their lives. All are on the precipice of major change but lack the ability to take that uncertain step into the future. And then they come into each other's lives.

Thanks to their love of Magical DoReMi the three form a relationship outside of their problems. They go on trips together across Japan, doubling down on some serious anime tourism by visiting a ton of different places seen in the various seasons of Magical DoReMi. This in turn leads to a strong friendship built on supporting each other's dreams and leaving the (often painful) status quo behind.

If there is “magic” shown in this film, it's more often metaphorical than literal. Each of the women has something about them—something special inside them—that the other two lack. The film is about recognizing this “magic” in others and in yourself—just as the characters themselves do.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about this film is that, despite the constant Magical DoReMi fanservice, you don't need to know anything about Magical DoReMi to understand the film, its characters, or its message. Sure, the soundtrack is filled with Magical DoReMi theme songs/background music and the original voice actors are back to voice their classic characters whenever the plot gives them an excuse to. But honestly, the same story could be told with nearly any other anime—though it is all the more powerful with one aimed at children.

In the end, it's important to realize what kind of film this actually is. While you'd think it's a slice-of-life film at first glance, it's actually a coming-of-age movie. All too often we think of “coming-of-age” as stories centered around teens making their first step into adulthood but there are many steps on the road to becoming an adult—and many places you can trip up or get stuck. Looking for Magical DoReMi is about our three heroines taking their last step into the adult world—and making sure that they are on a path they want to be on. And for that alone it's well worth a watch.

Overall : B+
Story : A
Animation : B
Art : B
Music : B

+ A story that hits home regardless of whether you know anything about Magical DoReMi or not.
The final scene is a bit too magical for an otherwise grounded story.

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Production Info:
Yū Kamatani
Junichi Sato
Script: Midori Kuriyama
Takuya Igarashi
Yū Kamatani
Junichi Sato
Azuma Tani
Original creator: Izumi Todo
Character Design: Yoshihiko Umakoshi
Chief Animation Director: Yoshihiko Umakoshi
Animation Director:
Mitsuko Baba
Satoshi Ishino
Shōko Nakamura
Terumi Nishii
Masayuki Sato
Takayuki Uragami
Art design:
Kenichi Tajiri
Shinzo Yuki
Yuki Yukie
Executive producer:
Hidenobu Muramatsu
Atsushi Suzuki
Katsuhiro Takagi
Hidenori Tsuji
Producer: Hiromi Seki

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