As mentioned previously, while we were in Japan, we saw lots of promotions for the latest Doraemon movie, “STAND BY ME ドラえもん”, you can see here. In Tokyo, we found a “park” full of Doraemon statues like so:
Including this “satanic” Doraemon:1 😉
But what is Doraemon?
Doraemon is a very popular cartoon character from Japan. He is from the 27th Century, and comes back to the 20th Century to live with his creator’s ancestor named Nobita のび太. Nobita is a selfish, whiny, lazy kid who never does his homework, and gets scolded by his mom often. He has a big crush on a girl in his neighborhood named Shizuka (静香). Shizuka and Nobita are friends, but because Nobita is such a slob, Shizuka isn’t really interested in him.
Nobita is also bullied by two other kids in the neighborhood: the huge and tempermental Jaian (ジャイアン) and the short, but arrogant Suneo (スネ夫). Sometimes they play together, but sometimes Jaian also beats up Nobita.
So, Nobita is kind of a loser, and Doraemon’s job was to live with him, help him get through troubles and sometimes set him straight. What makes Doraemon so fun is that he has lots and lots of gadgets he stores in the pouch on his tummy. These gadgets do all kinds of amazing and futuristic things like the dokodemodoa (どこでもドア) or “Anywhere Door” which lets Doraemon and Nobita go wherever they want, or beanie hats that let them fly when they wear. Some gadgets have amusing names that are word-play in Japanese. Anyhow, the park display above shows many of the famous gadgets Doraemon had.
Doraemon often uses the gadgets to help Nobita, but then Nobita often uses and abuses the same gadget for his own selfish reasons, and then gets into trouble later. Doraemon gets frustrated with Nobita sometimes, but he always helps him in the end. Nobita also has a few moments of maturity, and Doraemon and Nobita are good friends. The new movie (linked above) has a touching scene in it where Nobita gets beat-up by Jaian again, but Doraemon tearfully runs to help him after the fight.
My family and I like Doraemon a lot. Sometimes it’s a bit naughty, but I like how all the kids remain friends (even Jaian and Suneo) and Doraemon is faithful to Nobita. My wife and daughter saw the movie in Japan and liked it a lot. I had to babysit Little Guy, but I got to see a different movie the next day (more on that in a later post). My daughter owns a stack of Doraemon comics in Japanese and reads them almost every night in bed. Doraemon comics have really helped her Japanese reading skills, which is impressive since she lives in the US, not Japan. However, she forgets to clean up her room sometimes, so you can find Doraemon comics all over the place. 😉
But I like reading Doraemon too. The comics are somewhat easier for me to read, but not too easy, so I still learn lots of useful, everyday Japanese vocabulary. Plus I do enjoy the stories.
I even own a couple Doraemon comics in Korean now, thanks to my visit to Incheon Airport:
Doraemon in Korean is Doraemong (도라에몽) if you’re curious. 😉 I like reading the Korean comics more than other Korean books I was trying to read (which were a little boring), so I have made better progress in my Korean studies and my Japanese studies. 🙂
Anyhow, Doraemon is a great cartoon, and a great character. If you can read some Japanese (or are studying it), I definitely recommend getting some Doraemon comics, which are popular and easy to find and pretty useful.
1 What’s up with Satan’s Passport? The Japanese text read 悪魔パスポート (akuma pasupōto) which reads as “Demon’s Passport”. This is definitely a bad translation. A demon, in the generic, Japanese sense, is somewhat different than Satan, who is explicitly a figure in Christianity, Judaism and Islam. “Satan” has a lot of cultural meaning to Westerners, but Japanese translators would not know this. It’s a reminder that translation isn’t just about grammar, culture has to be considered too.