One of the greatest Anime creations ever, Doraemon is deemed a cultural icon throughout Japan, and a recognizable character worldwide. (Illustration courtesy of Fujiko Fujio)
Every morning I tuned in to GMA 7 to watch Doraemon, and I just kept laughing. There is this blue robotic cat named Doraemon and his sidekick Nobita, who turned to him for help and advice, mostly for the wrong reasons. And there are Nobita’s friends, namely Shizuka, Suneo and Takeshi. Takeshi, in the Filipino dub of the anime, is named ‘Damulag’ or fat. For some reason, I still enjoy the program’s comedic value with the emphasis on moral lessons and educational topics.
GMA 7 has been airing Doraemon in the Philippines for over a decade, albeit on an intermittent basis. GMA Network continues to have the rights to the Doraemon anime, so even though they would stop airing for a while, they would keep the rights for future airings. They have also aired Doraemon feature films, albeit in three-part episodes.
The anime is created by Fujiko Fujio, who published the manga for 27 years. The television programs, through three different incarnations, have been airing since 1973, mostly through the TV Asahi network. Nearly 50 Doraemon feature films have also been released. The Doraemon character is popular around the world, particularly in its native Japan, regardless of generations. In the Philippines, Doraemon merchandise have been a hit with children and adults alike, from keychains to bags and t-shirts, and even ringtones in cellphones.
One of my favorite Doraemon items is the time carpet. Doraemon and Nobita would go inside the latter’s drawer with the time carpet in hand, and then go time traveling, either to the past or to the future. Doraemon’s emphasis on studying both the past and the future has been a subject of discussion during every episode, and with it comes the experience and knowledge that Nobita learned through each of his travels. Another Doraemon trademark is the food dorayaki, used as a plot device in most episodes.
The secret of Doraemon is in his belly pocket. This is where he retrieves a gadget for Nobita to use in an effort to solve his dilemma. Sometimes however, Nobita would use that object at his own risk, and whenever Suneo and Takeshi sneak in, they would either steal or take advantage of Nobita’s object. Oftentimes it would be Nobita’s mother who scolded him for using the item for the wrong reason. This is where the moral lesson comes in, and it is usually up to Doraemon to remind Nobita of those lessons.
The humorous tone, creative storylines, and the moral lessons that come with it ensured the anime’s popularity and critical acclaim. Even as the manga published its last issue in 1996, its continued exposure through television, film, promotional appearances and merchandise kept Doraemon into the conscience of every Japanese. Today Doraemon is considered one of the greatest creations in the world of Japanese anime.