|Run Towards Tomorrow!|
Ojamajo Doremi 16
While showing her support for Aiko, Doremi and her friends help someone who has since gave up on their own dreams as she watches her friends chase their own. But to her surprise, an old friend shows up...
One day Aiko comes into the Maho-do looking very depressed. She was so excited and proud for being chosen to represent the prefecture at the National Track Meet, but she feels out of place on the team because she's the only one actually putting in decent effort. The others told her off because they found her serious attitude annoying.
Doremi intervenes to tell her not to care about them, since this is her dream, then claims that the other members are probably just jealous. At first she assumes Aiko may be putting up a strong front, but after a week, Aiko had returned to her normal, carefree self. She is happy that her advice worked and decides to pay Aiko a visit in the school yard.
Aiko shows Doremi the handsome coach her team has, but has to point out to Doremi that she was actually speaking about the old man next to him, a guy named Liyama-san. He is a senior from the Pioneer Batch of Runners at his school and got to compete in the Olymphic 100-M Dash. Lately he's been coming to watch everyone practice and even got the lazy seniors to work harder.
Doremi is very happy to know that someone who finally understands Aiko has shown up and the man comes by to ask Aiko why she is slacking off. She apologizes as Doremi attempts to explain what happened, so Aiko quickly introduces her friend before she leaves to go and train. With this time, Doremi thanks Liyama-San for helping Aiko, but he tells her that she doesn't need to because he could tell that Aiko posessed natural talent. This causes Doremi to excitedly yell, causing Liyama to laugh until she accidentally insults him by asking if he has any grandchildren. ,
Later on, Aiko comforts Doremi by confessing she made the same mistake earlier that week. They had been on their way to the Maho-do and Aiko explains that Liyama-san lives at a contractor's store in front of the train station. She's seen both an elementary girl and middle school girl head there, causing Doremi to wonder if maybe he is seperated from his family. Aiko mentions that she is curious, but she didn't want to be rude. As Doremi gets the idea to use magic and try to investigate, they are joined by Kouji Senoo, who has come to show Aiko what he got. It was a brand new Takoyaki Grill to replace their broken one, and while Doremi isn't as crazy for Takoyaki like Aiko and her family, she is very happy for them. With that, Aiko invites Doremi over to hold a party, and she calls up her friends and Liyama-san.
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That following sunday, Aiko's family, Hazuki, Doremi, and Liyama-san had been at the Senoo household for Takoyaki. Onpu couldn't make it since she had some auditions, and while asking about Liyama's family, they have been offering him alchohol to keep him in a good mood.
Liyama explains that when he was twenty-six, he had been offered a chance to compete in the Olympics and he had to attend a competition to determine if he would be good enough to represent the country. But he was forced to throw away his dream after his father passed away, right before the competition. He had to study and find a business to succeed in, to provide for his family. He has abandoned track all together, though his son has taken over the business. But he isn't exactly on good terms with the family, so they rarely get together.
Hazuki asks about this and he admits that he may be cranky or stubborn, and he tends to give snide remarks; so they must not like him. Kouji finds this to be a little unfair, but the topic changes to Aiko's own grandfather, who passed away the year prior. Years ago, when Kouji was going to marry Atsuko he didn't support it and disinherited her, so when her mother died he refused to let them come to visit. Aiko suffered a fear of elderly men for several years as she watched her grandfather hit her mom, and this causes Liyama to ask why Aiko invited him over. She explains that she wishes to get over her past experience after witnessing how kind Doremi's grandparents are. So while they can be scary they are irreplaceable and a precious part of the family.
With that, the girls suggest that Liyama can try to connect to his family more openly. At first he remains silent, but decides that they may be right. He decides that because of the time he should be going and everone cleans up as he leaves, now that the party is over.
Whatever takoyaki was left, Doremi, Aiko, and Hazuki took to the Maho-do to give to Majorika and Lala. On the way they discuss Liyama. They really want to help him and Hazuki suggests they try to create a chance to get them together, so that they can find a way to get along. Doremi points out that he developed his stubborn attitude after he dropped his dreams, but it isn't like they can somehow magically get him to compete in the olympics. Aiko then points out maybe somehow they can use magical stage to make this occur in his dreams.
So that night, everyone heads to the roof of Liyama's home. They summon their porons and with Magical Stage, they cast a spell.
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That following morning Aiko reveals to Doremi that magical stage worked wonders. Liyama had a dream he got to compete in the Olympics and he won second place. Doremi is a little concerned that he didn't come in first until Aiko points out that he said he was just happy to participate at all, and with some reflecting he finally stopped blaming his family for what happened, so he's going to try to work to get to know them and communicate with them more.
Aiko goes on to say that when he greeted them, they were all shocked but they greeted him back. Doremi is happy but Aiko points out that because of how happy she got, she promised to win a gold metal at the upcoming national meet. Doremi just tells her she has to win then, but Aiko is worried that she may not do very well against professional athletes. But Liyama will be there to support her, and Doremi cheers her up by claiming that Aiko's Osakan will-power will show up and she will win for sure.
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The national meet would be taking place at the Hyogo Prefecture at the end of September. Onpu had auditions again and couldn't make it, but everyone else was able to come and give their support. So once they were ready, they had gone to gather at the Kobe Track Stadium, the venue for the competition. Aiko's parents even came dressed in matching Happi coats and headbands.
Doremi takes a moment to explain the scedule while she mentions Aiko is going to be competing against adult women and university students. Aiko has so far won first place in the preliminary rounds, and second place in the semifinals, so she'd be proceeding to the finals. Aiko is giving it her all it seems but Doremi thinks she's beginning to lose focus, though Doremi assumes it has to be because Liyama hasn't shown up. Aiko confirms this concern, but worries that he may not have made up with his family yet.
As it is time for the final race to begin, Aiko lines up to see Liyama-san with his grandchildren and watch as they reveal a special banner they made for her. Liyama explains that they had come early but the grandchildren wanted to finish the banner first, so they all show their support for Aiko and encourage her to do her best. She thanks them and gets back into line with the competitors.
The race starts and Doremi mentions that while Onpu is beautiful on the stage, she sees a different beauty in Aiko right now. She finds herself very distracted with admiration for her friend, but snaps out of it before the race ends, where Aiko's time is revealed to have been 11.52 seconds, which is 0.22 seconds faster than her personal best - allowing her to break the record for the fastest high school student runner and place first.
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Doremi thinks over things sometime later, pointing out that while they had been really happy involving Aiko's victory, Onpu had been alone struggling to deal with everything. They had chose to become witch apprentice again but she refused to make sure she didn't grow up relying on magic again. Her life was much different then theirs as of late; considering she lives alone and has seperated from her family to follow her idol career again. She also has way more rivals at school than friends, causing Doremi to think she may be having a lot of anxiety. She contemplates that if it was her in Onpu's shoes, she would have used magic to make life easier, but with everybody's support she managed to refrain from being lazy. Magic should only be used as a last resort to help others in need, when no other solution can be found.
Realizing she's off topic, Doremi goes back to Onpu. So many people, fans, and friends knew Onpu back when she was a child idol and many of them had been shocked by the new, current Onpu. She had looked grown up but on the inside she was still the same Onpu. However, those who didn't know her personally would never know this.
Aiko suddenly asks Doremi how Onpu is, and she explains that Onpu had to forfeit from the auditions, for the second time. Instead of returning to television and music, Onpu was choosing to debut through stage performances, but her office was trying to introduce her to Variety Television Shows. Aiko thinks that Onpu doesn't want to rely on her former fame, since it can only last for so long, and she is probably really determined to show everyone that she still has her talents from the past, and more. Hazuki even compliments that Onpu has been working really hard and her singing is still very good.
Onpu wasn't there at the Maho-do at the time, but she came into Misora City every week to visit. She had been using a soundproof room in the Fujiwara household to practice vocal lessons and Hazuki would play the piano for her. But sometimes Haruka would come to help Onpu as well. Onpu also had been attending dance and english lessons, physical training, and studying various movies, films, and musicals. Hazuki believes she is probably much better then most of the others her age and Aiko points out that Onpu always won their karaoke sessions, and now she'd be practically a professional so they could no longer do it anymore.
Doremi makes a comment, but it goes ignored as Aiko wonders what Onpu may try to do next. Hazuki heard she had a few musicals in mind that she planned to try out for, and she's been training very hard lately, working on her diaphragm and vocals.
Doremi finally realizes she is being ignored, and she starts to wonder if her role as the leader is in jeopardy.
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The following sunday Onpu had decided to stop by the Maho-do and the store suddenly seemed to grow more lively. Pop also brought her friends along to visit. Doremi momentarily mentions that despite all of her really hard work, Pop's grades never had a steady pace and would either be really good, or bad. She came in hopes of changing it by purchasing a bracelet said to grant wishes, then threatens to claim the magical goods are fake if they do not help. That is, until Onpu reveals she made the bracelet. Right away Pop happily agrees to knowing the wish will come true, since Onpu made it. She is also happy in knowing that Onpu made an exact copy for herself, and she goes on to buy it.
Throughout the day, a lot of the girls' friends stop by to check out the new magical goods and so-on. But thankfully because of Onpu they managed to get through it.
Eventually Aiko and Hazuki show up, to which Majorika couldn't help but point out how long it's been to have all four of them together. Doremi took a late lunch and watches the others work as she relaxes, until Hazuki joins her with a cup of tea to ask her what is wrong, seeing the envious expression Doremi has.
Doremi admits how jealous she feels, giving how hard they're working and how they all have goals, but she doesn't have anything going on in her life now. Hazuki claims that it isn't always the best thing to be envious over, since this dedication to goals can leave one losing sight to everything else and ignore the other important things in life. She loves to play the violin and she knows she may never become a professional violinist, but for now she's fine practicing every day since it means getting to play it and still having time for everything else. Doremi asks Hazuki if she may be a burden for them, when they are joined by Aiko and Onpu, who have come to join them. They both try to comfort her and they even mention that it isn't like Doremi to try comparing herself to others like this, and when Doremi realizes this she apologizes.
However, the girls are pretty happy to find out that she is being honest with her feelings. Doremi knows that while she will eventually realize her own virtues, for now she's concerned considering the other three couldn't think of anything to list as one to begin with.
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The following day, Doremi continued thinking over everything. She found it too hard to concentrate during class and recieved a lecture from their teacher as a result. He makes Doremi leave the classroom, then makes her clean the washroom as punishment for her response.
Because of the length in time it took, it was recess by the time Doremi was finishing. Aiko came along to help her and she assumes Doremi is still concerned over the previous days issue. Doremi tells her that the others couldn't name a single thing good about her and it really upset her, so Aiko tries to tease her in order to perk her up. But this only makes Doremi feel worse until Aiko points out that she is sure they could come up with a good list of things to say about Doremi.
Suddenly, a voice speaks out to them and the girls are shocked to find someone in a yellow apprentice uniform watching them from the window. They recognize her as Momoko and Doremi starts to panic.
Doremi then concludes this book and tells the readers to stay tuned for the second light novel.