Doraemon apparently first appeared in 1969 or 1970 (it ran as a manga series starting about 1974), with the infamous something-wonderful-pops-out-of-the-desk-drawer story. Since then, it has gone on to become one of Japan’s most popular and well-loved manga series, and Doraemon is now perhaps one of the most recognized faces in all of Japan. The comedy series is still continuing, though it suffers from the defection of one of the two original writers. From my own point of view, Books 1 through 30 are probably the classic Doraemon, and the stories seem to solidify and improve at around book 6 (before that, the drawing style is a little old-fashioned, and the plots are a little thin).
Some fun facts about Doraemon series:
- Nobita’s father wants to get a driver’s license, even though the mother makes the side comment that since he isn’t cut out for driving, it would be safer for the world if he didn’t. Nobita and Doraemon set up a miniature roadway for the father to practice with, using the Gulliver Tunnel to shrink him. (Of course Doraemon and Nobita have to test-drive the roads first). Nobita’s father, deeply touched, starts using the roadway. Becoming bold, he takes his miniature car out to the real roads (“Where of course I can’t hurt anyone!”) and promptly has a major accident with a little boy’s toy truck, demolishing the miniature car. “Maybe he really isn’t cut out for driving,” Nobita and Doraemon mutter.
- Nobita finds an egg that Doraemon has left lying around, and adopts it. Doraemon takes too long to remember what egg it was — a wind storm egg — and it hatches. (Yes, future science has created a sentient wind storm). The cute little whirlpool of air, lovingly raised by Nobita and fed with hot air from candles, gradually becomes a minor menace. Nobita’s parents demand that the little whirlpool leave. But that night, a major typhoon arrives off the Japanese coast and threatens the Nobi house. The little whirlpool leaps out into the howling winds and battles the far larger typhoon, subduing it and saving the house. In the morning, both storms are gone, having dissipated in the battle….
- One day, Doraemon has to leave on business. Unfortunately, Nobita’s parents have already left town on other business, thinking Doraemon would be around to take care of Nobita. This now leaves Nobita alone. Desperately, Nobita begs Doraemon to stay. To help him, Doraemon leaves a robot rope that can take up the shape and function of just about anything. At first Nobita doesn’t like the odd-looking thing, but after it kicks out an intruder, helps him with baseball, cooks dinner, and acts as a horse, he’s converted. Meanwhile, Doraemon is so worried about Nobita that he cuts short his business and returns home — only to find Nobita engrossed in a game with the rope, and practically oblivious to Doraemon’s return.
- In another story, Nobita has to read a book for a class assignment. Since he hates reading books (as opposed to comic books), Doraemon produces a book-helmet that causes the wearer to recite the contents of a book. The brilliant boy Dekisugi is convinced to recite a book for Nobita (he’s shown around the future as a pre-payment). He does so, and Nobita is drawn into the adventure story. Finally, late at night, Dekisugi is too tired to continue, and is allowed to go home. Nobita wants to find out what happens in the story so much that he sits down and starts reading the book himself. His parents come in and tell him not to stay up all night reading, but Doraemon holds them back. “Don’t make him stop — he’s finally discovered the joy of reading!”
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