This week, I would like to take a break from novels, movies, and games to write about a comic instead. A manga title, to be specific.
If you are familiar with manga series, you might have heard about huge names such as Naruto, Dragon Ball, or Bleach. However, let me introduce you to a series that is not talked much about in America but was created way before Naruto or Dragon Ball were, has been adapted into a anime series and media franchise and overwhelmingly loved by many Japanese and international readers since 1969, Doraemon.
Doraemon is about a story about Nobita, a boy with poor grades and is usually bullied by his friends. It is predicted in the future that Nobita will fail in school and work and force his family into debts. Nobita’s descendants from the future, thus decides to send a robotic cat, Doraemon, back to guide and protect him.
The first meeting between Doraemon and Nobita, who soon become best friends through the stories.
Doraemon is not a linear story but rather a collection of short stories. Each story shares the same formula, revolving problems that Nobita, a fourth grader, encounters in his daily life. Most of the time, the beginning scene will involve Nobita running home crying to Doraemon about troubles he has in school with his friends.
Doraemon can pull out huge item from his mini front pocket!
After listening, Doraemon will take out an item from his bottom less pocket to help Nobita out. This item can range from toy to potion, to a technology from the future. Two items that reappear often in the series are “Bamboo-copter”, a head-wear that allows flight, and “Anywhere Door”, a door that can take one to anywhere they wish to go. Nobita sometimes will go too far and use the items incorrectly, which causes even more trouble.
One of the times the items went wrong!
The setting of the manga is the Japanese society in 1970s, represented through a small town in the countryside of Tokyo, where there are well off families with luxurious villas but also more common families like Nobita’s where the dad works as a small position in a company, and the mom has to frequently worry about the family budget.
The manga’s topics are often about the friendship among Doraemon – Nobita – cute Shizuka ( who is also Nobita’s crush) – bullying Gian – cunning and arrogant Suneo, relationship among family members, neighborhood, etc.
From left to right: Suneo, Nobita, Doraemon, Shizuka, Gian (flying using the “Bamboo-copter”)
The first page of a short story in Doraemon
Because the manga targets really young readers, most conflicts in Doraemon are lighthearted and easily solved at the end of each story. However, sometimes, the author also brings up more serious issues such as environment protection, human’s dependency on technologies, or generation gap that readers can learn some moral lessons from.