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New film brings Doraemon's life story to China in 3D

(Global Times)    09:44, May 27, 2015

Stand by me

For the spirit of the upcoming International Children's Day on June 1, I recommend twenty- and thirtysomethings head to cinemas to enjoy a film that will take you back to the shared childhood memories of our generation. Stand by MeDoraemon, the first 3D movie adaptation of the long-lived Japanese Doraemonseries that premiered in Japan in August of 2014 will finally premiere in China on Thursday.

Though the 3D visual presentation makes the film feel quite different from what many of us saw as children, the core story will most definitely spark some of our most moving memories.

Beginning and end

Previously, Doraemon: Nobita's Dinosaur 2006, Doraemon: Nobita's New Great Adventureinto the Underworldand Doraemon: Nobita and the Green GiantLegend were imported to Chinese mainland one year after they premiered in Japan only to fail at the box office. The first Doraemonmovie earned 21.7 million yuan ($3.5 million) here, with box office numbers falling to 14.5 million for the second and only 5.9 million for the third. This poor performance rocked movie importers' confidence about this well-known anime series and plans to import Doraemon: Nobita's Great Battle of the Mermaid Kingin 2010 was soon canceled.

A lack of promotion and familiarity among Chinese audiences with the original stories in the movies played a large part in their poor performances.

Differing from these original films, the new 3D movie actually takes several classic short stories from the manga and strings them together. "All the Way From the Country of the Future," "Imprinting Egg," "Goodbye, Shizuka-chan," "Romance in Snowy Mountain," "Nobita's the Night Before a Wedding" and "Goodbye, Doraemon…" form a complete circle showing how Doraemon came into Nobita's life, how he helped Nobita get a glimpse into his future, how Nobita got married and how the robotic cat eventually left. Some of these stories, such as "Goodbye, Doraemon..." have been adapted in the animated TV series more than once and all of them have been praised for their ability to move audiences to tears. By collecting these stories in one place, the film makes it easy for all audiences, both nostalgic adults and children new to the series, to enjoy the entire relationship of a boy and his futuristic robotic cat from beginning to end.

The more emotional parts of the film may actually have more of an impact on Doraemon fans that have now grown up. For example, the scene in which Shizuka (Nobuda's wife in the future) says goodbye to her father is a moment audiences who have already moved out from their parents' homes will more easily understand.

Shared memories

It was 1969 when an adorable blue robot cat from the future, Doraemon, climbed out from the desk drawer of a young boys desk and began to help this cowardly and lazy boy change his destiny.

The original manga is a simple and pure story that had kids from all over the world wishing they could have an omnipotent friend like Doraemon, who could pull almost any futuristic device out of his belly pouch, in their lives. More than 45 years have passed, those who once read the continuing stories of Doraemon in magazines and manga collections have grown up to have their own children or even grandchildren, while young Nobita is still studying in primary school and enjoying an amazing childhood with his personal superhero.

The Doraemonmanga was first introduced to the Chinese mainland in late 1980s. The anime series soon followed, imported and translated by Guangdong TV in 1989 and then by China Central TV (CCTV) in 1991. Chinese audiences born in 1980s grew up with very different early Chinese versions in which Doraemonwas known as Xiao Dingdang or Ameng. After the death of the original author Fujiko F. Fujio (born Hiroshi Fujimoto) in 1996, the names in all the translated versions were unified in accordance with the authors wishes.

Love for the series in China has taken many forms, such as fan-made continuations of the manga and different interpretations of the story. For instance, reinterpretations of the ending of the series can be found online in which the comic's happy stories are redrawn as the imaginations or hallucinations of a young boy who has such a hard time making friends in real life he imagines a best friend for himself in his day dreams.

Nearly two decades after Fujio's death, the series is still going strong with Fujio's studio taking over the author's creative duties.

Cultural ambassadorIn 2008, the then Foreign Minister of Japan Masahiko Komura appointed Doraemon as the first ever cartoon ambassador of the country, preparing the blue robot cat's favorite dessert red-bean pancakes and inviting this globally recognized figure to "deepen people's understanding of Japan so they will become friends with Japan."

This was not the only time that Doraemon took on ambassadorial duties for the country. In 2013, the cat was appointed as the first special ambassador for the country's Olympic bid. His embodiment of values such as respect and friendship were an important part behind Tokyo's successfully bid for the 2020 Olympic Games.

These values are very present in the film, which is a warm story about childhood, family and life that audiences are sure to enjoy.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor:Gao Yinan,Huang Jin)

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