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WEDNESDAY, December 07, 2022
Happy birthday Doraemon, (minus) 90 years old today!

Happy birthday Doraemon, (minus) 90 years old today!

SATURDAY, September 03, 2022

Popular Japanese character Doraemon celebrated his birthday on Saturday – with a twist.

The fictional robot cat was born in the future in 2112, making him minus-90 years old.

Doraemon first arrived in our time in 1970 as a character in a manga and anime series created by Fujiko F Fujio, the pen name of Hiroshi Fujimoto and Motoo Abiko.

The male earless robotic cat travels from the 22nd century, sent back in time by a young boy named Sewashi to help his great-great-grandfather, Nobita Nobi.

Born from a stray cat

His creator Fujimoto was suffering writer's block when he saw a stray cat in his garden. It gave him inspiration for a character who travels by time machine to fix mistakes in the past.

He crossed the stray cat with a Japanese doll to create a robotic feline from the future who zips back through time to help Nobita.

Doraemon made his debut 52 years ago as a manga series with 1,344 stories.

It told the story of Nobita, a lazy but kind boy with a flawed personality.

Nobita is bullied at school and has poor grades – not helped by his tendency to nap when he should be working.

Meanwhile, Doraemon has a weakness for dorayaki pancakes but also a fear of the robotic mouse that ate his ears. Adding to the mind-boggling richness of this world are the secrets he keeps in the fourth-dimensional pocket in his belly. Inside is an endless variety of gadgets, a mix of household appliances and magical tools based on Japanese religious beliefs.

The official number of Doraemon’s gadgets is not known but is estimated at around 4,500. He uses some of the items regularly, but others appear only once.

Fujio once claimed Doraemon has a total of 1,293 gadgets. However, Yasuyuki Yokoyama of Toyama University analysed the series in 2004 and found a total of 1,963 different gadgets in 1,344 storylines. The Doraemon Fanclub lists the number at 1,812.

Why Doraemon is loved

Analysis by psychologists suggests the secret of the series’ popularity lies in the character of Nobita. As a likeable loser and low achiever with a limited skill set, he is easy to relate to.

Most of us, after all, have a lazy, selfish and even cowardly side to our character.

Meanwhile, Doraemon is a helper who can solve his problems but refuses to indulge Nobita every time.

Fujimoto died in 1996. When his co-creator Abiko passed away in April this year, there were rumours he had left behind a plot for the series ending. One rumour says the ending features Nobita lying bedridden in hospital with his friends around him. Another has Doraemon’s battery running out and erasing his memory, as the spare battery was in the ear gnawed off by the mouse. Time machines have become illegal in the future world, meaning he can’t travel there to be repaired, so he is stranded in time.

However, Nobita decides to study hard and becomes a world-class scientist who is able to fix Doraemon’s memory himself.