Somewhat obscure in the U.S., Doraemon is one of the most recognizable characters in Japan. After 80 years of high-tech shenanigans, the time-travelling cat’s two latest films are now streaming on Netflix. Jean-Karlo and Steve freshen up their knowledge of the big blue cat to see what made these films hits in Japan.
These movies are streaming on Netflix
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Spoiler Warning for discussion of the series ahead.
Steve, the wise men of Styx may have said once that machines dehumanize, but if you ask me I’m fine with this trans-humanist stuff. I mean, if it weren’t fun to think of the kind of gadgets we could get in the future, we’d never get Jean Reno or Bruce Willis doing Japanese commercials in intentionally-bad cosplay!
May aging action stars always and forever find their final resting place in the Japanese advertising industry. And meanwhile, may we at “This Week In Anime” continue to probe all the various nooks and crannies of anime past and present, which takes us this week to one of the biggest multimedia franchises of all time.
Heck yeah, I’d take a bullet for you, earless blue cat from the future!
No dead bodies in either of these, sadly.
These two movies are part of a package deal, done to commemorate the 80th anniversary of Fujiko F. Fujio, one of the two co-creators of Doraemon. As such, you don’t need prior experience with the franchise to grok its deal—and even then, Doraemon is so formulaic that you wouldn’t need to. To say nothing of there being so much Doraemon that you couldn’t possibly watch it all. Seriously, the 1979 anime went on for almost 1500 episodes, not counting movies…
At any rate, the story is like this: Nobita Nobi is a fourth-grade loser. He has horrible grades, no real skills in anything, is a major dweeb, and absolutely no hope of ever getting better. He’s basically Japanese Doug Funnie, complete with an incurable case of learned helplessness.
By the way, same image:
Oh god, the two of them are even blue…
I wonder what Doraemon’s class would be. Caster, probably.
Even Doraemon hates Nobita so much he doesn’t want to stick around, but Nobita’s descendant basically programs him so that he’s incapable of returning to the future unless he helps Nobita become happy in the present. Doraemon takes it about as well as you could expect anyone to.
But anyway, here are some cool gadgets!
Look at their future drip here. Unrivaled.
I still don’t get how Suneo goes from pointy hair to brillo-pad hair. I could barely recognize him when he showed up in the future.
Future hairstylists must be on another level.
This also results in a situation where Nobita needs to rescue future Shizuka from a deadly mountain blizzard, because it’s the third act of the film and we need something dramatic, damn it.
Char Aznable once said people struggle to acknowledge the mistakes of their youth, what does it say when you struggle with your adult self?
Naturally, his attempt to do something on his own and rescue the love of his life goes about as well as you’d expect.
Note that I’m already skipping over a huge chunk of the movie that involves Nobita and Doraemon even finding him in the first place; this involves sending Nobita’s soul back into his own body at the beginning of the movie and carting Past Nobita back to the beginning but wiping his memory so that the timeline is maintained. The intro even teases these bits, for a fun bit of continuity.
But there’s still a time limit: as it turns out, the body-swapping gadget had a fatal defect and if you spend more than an hour in another person’s body you lose all your memories. The future gadget salesman even shows up in a pathetic attempt at saving face.
On the other hand, the future gets holographic Tezuka money, so it’s impossible to say whether it’s bad or not.
But yes, this bit of the movie lasts for too long, and even though both Nobitas end up catatonic they’re able to make the switch back into their proper bodies and Future Nobita is able to deliver a proper speech at his wedding. Nobita even manages to sneak his grandma to the ceremony!
There’s another vignette where Nobita addresses a throwaway joke from the beginning of the movie and sees whether he’s actually his parents’ son, where we learn why his parents named him Nobita. It’s a bit of a pun, “Nobita” comes from “Nobiru”, which can mean “to grow”. In a cruel twist of fate, his parents hoped Nobita would grow. Uh… yeah, about that…
Yep, seems like this Doraemon fellow is here to stay. And who knows, maybe in Stand By Me 3 they’ll finally go looking for his missing ears.