Doraemon became a cultural icon by mastering every genre

On April 7, the world tragically misplaced Motoo Abiko, a mangaka of almost 70 years and one half of the comedian book-writing duo recognized collectively as Fujiko Fujio, the creator(s) of Doraemon. During the 52 years since its creation, the titular robotic cat, who travels from the long run to assist out a 10-year-old boy utilizing an array of sci-fi innovations, has turn into a Japanese popular culture icon. The Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs truly designated the character an “anime ambassador,” and Eiichiro Oda even cited the manga as an inspiration for Devil Fruits in One Piece.

But there’s one other a part of Doraemon’s legacy that not often will get talked about. Ever because the first Doraemon story was revealed in December 1969, the franchise has turned out motion pictures and TV episodes in nearly every genre ever, and each time it did, it completely crushed it. Here are a few alternative examples of Doraemon’s versatility throughout genres:


Manga panel of Melody Gas, as Nobita flies through the air through the power of farts.

Image: Dora-World

Doraemon is basically the right encapsulation of common types of Japanese comedy like manzai, the Japanese double-act stand-up that often options a pitiful “funny man” because the figurative punching bag. It’s not the kindest type of comedy and sometimes depends on meanness, from how the story’s different major character — the good-hearted however lazy/sneaky 10-year-old Nobita Nobi — is consistently the butt of every joke all the way in which to the franchise’s premise.

Doraemon is distributed to the previous by Nobita’s grandson to cease him from ruining his life by falling into poverty and, apparently equally importantly because it’s introduced up a lot, marrying a fats lady. Yes, she wasn’t Nobita’s real love or no matter, however the story makes darkish comedy of a individual risking erasing themself from existence as a result of their grandma didn’t conform to conventional magnificence requirements.

Next up, farts. Fart humor has existed in Japan for nearly 1,000 years, with artwork items generally known as He-gassen or “fart competitions” (which depict, effectively, their titles) going way back to the twelfth century. Farts are additionally a massive a part of the favored Japanese youngsters’s character Butt Detective, who incapacitates his enemies with flatulence. Doraemon equally didn’t draw back from booty-tooty tales, like “Melody Gas,” the place Nobita ingests Doraemon’s particular potatoes that help you actually discuss (and in addition sing) out of your ass. Only Nobita after all eats too lots of them and blasts/farts off out of his pal’s home just like the world’s grossest rocket. There’s most likely an “Apoollo 13” joke in right here someplace. And talking of which: puns.

Entire library wings may very well be full of books in regards to the significance of puns in Japanese humor. And lots of them must point out Doraemons Pun Gun, which may flip any object into no matter wordplay you shout at it, like when one character turns a vampire statue into a vampire cucumber with the pun “Dracucumber!” Wait … does that imply that Doraemon invented the prototype thought for Pickle Rick from Rick and Morty? In any case, whereas not every joke in Doraemon will be just right for you, the manga and anime are invaluable compendiums of gags that tickle the Japanese humerus.

Science fiction

Doraemon and pals eat a huge pile of memory bread, which looks like bread with images imprinted on it.

Image: TV Asahi

As Arthur C. Clarke famously mentioned: “How inappropriate to call this planet ‘Earth,’ when it is clearly ‘Ocean.’” And as Arthur C. Clarke famously and extra aptly mentioned: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Doraemon actually took that idea and ran with it up to now and quick, it broke the dimensional barrier till it arrived in its personal bizarre little world of creativeness that no different comedian or present may ever contact.

Doraemon’s futuristic, principally magic devices are the calling card of the collection, and whereas a lot of them are fairly fundamental (like a propeller hat that basically makes you fly or a door that may transport you wherever), some are extremely inventive. (One, the What-If Phone Booth, is principally a sensible model of the What-If Machine from Futurama, solely invented a few a long time earlier.) So you will have stuff like Abekonbe, which reverses the perform or attribute of an object. For instance, when you handled an eraser with it, the eraser would all of a sudden flip paper black. Cigarettes would turn into longer the extra you smoked them. If the gadget in some way affected your entire planet, the identify “Earth” would all of a sudden be far more applicable, and so forth.

Then you will have Memory Bread, which seems like a slice of abnormal wheat loaf that you simply press towards, say, a e book. You then eat the ensuing toast and achieve all of the information that it’s absorbed from a supply of data, which is able to stick with you till you … expel the bread. Or how in regards to the Anything-Controller, a steering wheel you can stick on something to show it into a automobile by means of the magic of science? On the present, they use an outdated sofa, however there’s a lot extra you are able to do with it. Suffice to say, within the incorrect (or “right,” relying on how a lot you wish to see the world burn) fingers, the time period “muscle car” might all of a sudden purchase a entire new that means/invent a entire new class of psychological injury. And since we’re on the topic…


On April 13, a diver in Enoura (Kanagawa Prefecture) found a sunken Doraemon statue on the backside of Sagami Bay, which, in a Dark Souls-esque online game, would clearly materialize the cursed Drowned King when touched or one thing.

This dead-eyed nightmare gas reminds us that regardless of its lighthearted tone, Doraemon does have the potential to be scary. And, occasionally, it’s lived as much as that potential. In the 2007 film Doraemon: Nobita’s New Great Adventure into the Underworld, there’s a subplot about a mom who discovers that her youngster is terminally unwell, which is such a sudden tonal flip from farting your self off the bottom that it’s sufficient to present you emotional whiplash. To save her daughter, the girl summons a highly effective demon and sells her soul to him in trade for a treatment, being changed into a demon herself within the course of.

Throughout the film, the demoness, who’s misplaced all reminiscences of her human life, comes near nearly killing her youngster a variety of instances till the kid’s cries briefly deliver her again, in the end liberating her from her demon type. Then, as her spirit prepares to ascend, her daughter tries to hug the mother or father she thought she’d by no means see once more however doesn’t make it in time as a result of who mentioned you possibly can have good issues? Definitely not Doraemon.

Admittedly, the story isn’t something too terrifying — not like the Dictator Switch, a gadget that first made an look in a 1979 episode of the anime and which has the facility to … erase a individual from existence, together with different individuals’s reminiscences of them. Just push it and the goal has the cosmic flame inside them extinguished, being forged into oblivion with out a second’s discover and leaving completely nothing behind. And bear in mind: A ten-year-old boy has entry to it. That’s stable horror materials.


Nobita and his grandmother kneel at a table in Stand by Me Doraemon 2.

Image: Netflix Japan

In the 2000 brief film Doraemon: A Grandmother’s Recollections, Nobita travels again in time to as soon as once more see his late grandmother and … that’s it. There’s no risk or villain to beat, no twist ending the place Nobita advises grandma to not ignore the “loose tiger” warning a few weeks from now in order that she doesn’t die. It’s simply a story of a child who actually missed his granny, so he put the legal guidelines of physics in a headlock and noogied them till he bought a few extra moments together with her, and that was greater than sufficient.

Grandmother’s Recollections packs in a shocking quantity of philosophy into its half-hour run time. The film is in the end about how life solely has that means as a result of it ends. Yes, there are a lot of issues we miss out on once we die, however the finality of life is why we create and type shut bonds and love with all of our hearts. Because that’s how we go away items of ourselves on the planet, which is able to stay after our our bodies are gone. Unless somebody makes use of the Dictator Switch on you, that’s.

While Doraemon is primarily aimed toward youngsters, it may well and does sometimes provide one thing for adults. The 2020 film Doraemon: Nobita’s New Dinosaur, by which Nobita takes care of two dinosaur hatchlings, is one other nice instance of that. It would have been really easy to go the E.T. route and make the film about a little child attempting to cover his sci-fi pals from his mother and father. Instead, we bought a story of Nobita turning into a mother or father to the dinos, attempting to do what’s greatest for his “kids,” panicking after they get sick, sacrificing for his or her happiness, and feeling their ache after they fail. It’s a remarkably layered, dramatic story of what it means to have youngsters. There aren’t that many franchises that may ship grownup messages like that and present a little child almost attaining escape velocity by butt-burping.


Nobita and Shizuka’s wedding in Stand by Me Doraemon 2.

Image: Netflix Japan

Doraemon: A Grandmother’s Recollections was truly tailored twice, with the storyline being reused within the 2020 film Stand by Me Doraemon 2, the place the grownup Nobita has managed to alter his future and is about to marry the love of his life: Shizuka. Let’s discuss a little extra about her. She is a distinctive cartoon love curiosity as a result of she truly has a character. In most animated reveals aimed toward youngsters, the love curiosity is often blander than dry hen on cardboard as a result of they don’t seem to be truly a actual individual. They’re a purpose or a reward for the primary character, with little or no company or a character past “has pulse; maybe likes the protagonist.”

Not Shizuka, although. She’s studious, courageous, and sort to those that need assistance, but additionally nonetheless a child susceptible to jealousy, outbursts of anger, and the like. However, younger Nobita has an idealized view of her, which is comprehensible since he’s a child. But as an grownup, that will not fly. Adult Nobita’s relationship with Shizuka must be … extra. And that’s exactly what Stand by Me Doraemon 2 is about. Here, younger Nobita travels again in time to see his grandmother, however whereas all that’s taking place, the grownup Nobita will get chilly ft on the day of his marriage ceremony to Shizuka and bolts. Why? Because after a long time of placing her on a pedestal, he has a second when he asks himself: Is he adequate for her? Is Shizuka solely marrying him out of pity? In brief, he sees her as a individual, not his reward.

The movie’s closing message isn’t revolutionary, nevertheless it isn’t surface-level both. The film explores how one can know somebody all of your life and nonetheless not be 100% positive of their inside self, as a result of that’s simply how people work. It additionally emphasizes the significance of shared experiences and the way they will turn into a basis of a lasting relationship. Just like the inspiration for the success of the Doraemon franchise is its mastery of…

Action and journey

Doraemon and crew looks very surprised by what they see from their pirate ship in Doraemon: Nobita’s Treasure Island.

Image: Amazon Prime Japan

Even if the Doraemon franchise had the fartiest gags, the science-fictioniest innovations, the deadest demon mother and father, or the cryingest reunions between grandmas and grandsons, that most likely nonetheless wouldn’t be sufficient to make the Doraemon movies the large pop-culture occasions they’re at the moment in Japan.

So, what retains individuals coming again to the Doraemon movies? The motion, as a result of it’s at all times completely different, however at all times huge in scale and ingenious. The newest installment of the collection, Doraemon: Nobita’s Little Star Wars 2021, options huge house battles and a world revolt on an alien planet. The 2018 film Doraemon: Nobita’s Treasure Island was conversely a pirate-themed journey. The film earlier than it, Doraemon the Movie 2017: Great Adventure within the Antarctic Kachi Kochi, was about discovering a misplaced historical metropolis within the South Pole, and it doesn’t finish there. Whatever type of action-adventure you’re into, there’s a probability Doraemon has a film about it. Giant robotic fights? Doraemon: Nobita and the Steel Troops. A suspense-mystery set on a prepare? In house? Done. Doraemon: Nobita and the Galaxy Super-express. Do you … need knights on dinosaurs? Then you’ll wish to try the kind-of-unimaginatively-titled Doraemon: Nobita and the Knights on Dinosaurs.

The better part is, none of these motion pictures rely solely on their premises, as an alternative establishing fascinating character tales round them. Little Star Wars, for instance, has scenes of a youngster attempting to sacrifice their life to protect life and freedom, whereas Treasure Island is a story about a individual being pushed mad with grief after dropping a cherished one. Kids may not discover or take care of these particulars, however they’re important to creating the motion in Doraemon motion pictures extra than simply a gimmick.

Maybe that’s in the end the legacy of Fujiko Fujio and Doraemon: at all times going that additional mile till your mind stops caring that these fantastically crafted tales that span every genre revolve round a bobblehead, earless robotic cat from the twenty second century. And when a collection could make you droop your disbelief a lot, that you’ve one thing timeless in your fingerless ball fingers.

Stand by Me Doraemon and Stand by Me Doraemon 2 can be found to look at on Netflix. Many episodes of the present may be discovered on YouTube.

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