Yesterday, I finally had the chance to watch what was peddled to me as a “compilation of the best Doraemon episodes”. And let me tell, it was worth every penny.
The movie came out in theaters (for public viewing; there was a limited premiere show on the 3rd of December) eight days ago, but the power of the Doraemon franchise attracted a fucking crapload of people to the theaters. Heck, on the first day of its release, the Blitz Megaplex at Central Park, Jakarta was flooded by people, with lines stretching all the way to the entrance. I thought I’d catch it on a work day, because I thought there would be less people. Boy was I wrong. It was a Wednesday, and it seemed people skipped work just to watch Doraemon. That’s either clever marketing, or the Doraemon brand is just that powerful. Anyway, I managed to get a ticket for the 5.30pm show after half an hour of queuing (all thanks to my Blitz member card). I wished I strolled past the people who were in the normal queue, just to lift my middle finger and say, “Haha, sucks to be you, bitches!”
Oh right, the movie. Okay, I’ll get to that.
Do I even need to summarize the film? It’s already summarized in the trailer. It is, in fact, a compilation of the best Doraemon episodes. And by “best episodes”, they actually mean the core episodes that create the entire Doraemon plot, which, if you think about it, only revolves around the love story of Nobita, a fucking loser, and Shizuka, the Hermione of the series, and how they come to pork each other at the end.
So, if you’re an avid reader/watcher of the manga or anime series, you should know what you’re expecting. But for the newcomers…
Basically, Doraemon tells us the story of Nobita Nobi, a fourth-grader who is, bluntly put, a pathetic loser. He sucks at sports, can’t study shit, gets bullied all the time, a crybaby, and isn’t popular. He has a crush on Shizuka Minamoto, a girl who is superior to him in all aspects, just like Hermione from Harry Potter. But, in the future, his life turns into shit. His great-great grandson, Sewashi, takes pity on him and sends Doraemon, a cat-like robot from the future, back in time to help Nobita repair his pathetic life. Nobita’s life takes a turn for the best, as Doraemon helps him out with his problems, from getting bullied to stealing Shizuka’s heart, using a multitude of nifty gadgets. However, as Nobita’s life improves, Doraemon, by his programming, has to return to the future. Nobita then vows to become a better man and finally, let Doraemon go.
That’s the entire Doraemon series, and the movie, summarized in one paragraph, without major spoilers, however. Of course, if you actually took the time to read the comics, then the entire movie has already been spoiled.
Now, on to the review!
Of course I’d give the story a full score. It stays true to the original, making this movie one of the best adaptations I’ve ever seen. Basically, what happens in the comics (well, in the core episodes, that is) is reproduced as-is in the movie. Only, in the movie, the events are arranged to create a well-paced, dramatic story that was never present in the original. If it was a stand-alone film, the plot is intriguing while being hilarious.
Let me explain.
In the comics, the core events were spread out in several volumes, making it quite hard to draw a coherent timeline of the entire Doraemon series. Unless you collected every volume from 1 till end. The movie eases this hard work by presenting the events in such a way that it basically creates a new, canon timeline that is as good, or even better.
We start with Doraemon coming from the 22nd century to Nobita’s time. Then, Nobita’s life suddenly starts improving for the better due to Doraemon’s help, shown in a sweet, short montage that covers quite a LOT of episodes from the comics. Then, Dekisugi appears as his love rival. There was an episode titled “Imprinting Egg” in the comics that made quite little sense. But the movie made the episode a lot more significant by using it to build tension and advance the plot (it was fucking hilarious one, I tell you) to Nobita attempting suicide by taking drugs (the episode was “Goodbye, Shizuka”). Then at the pinnacle of the plot were the episodes “Romance on a Snowy Mountain” followed by the most iconic episode in the Doraemon series, “The Night Before Nobita’s Wedding”. The connection between these two episodes were quite vague in the original, but the movie made it clear that the two were tightly intertwined. They also made it dramatic as fuck, which was good. And finally, after the future was secure, we return to the part where Doraemon leaves. You see, the original comics were incoherent with the timeline thing; they put the ending in the early volumes. The movie made it clear that the ending was canon by putting it AFTER “The Night Before Nobita’s Wedding”, which left a strong impression on me. And I won’t spoil the rest.
So, since the movie did an awesome job in structuring the Doraemon core episodes into one heck of a heartwarming drama and coherent timeline, I give it a fucking full score. But if you’re a motherfucker with a cold heart like me, you wouldn’t be crying after the movie. Leave that to the others.
Fujiko F. Fujio’s characters are memorable, full stop. Nobita, while being a pathetic loser, is fairly lovable. Shizuka is the perfect “girl next door”. She’s smart, a great cook, and compassionate. All the qualities of an ideal housewife. Giant is that antagonistic bully, and Suneo the opportunist. Doraemon himself is a rather rational partner and a loving caretaker. Dekisugi is what Nobita would be if he was born in a different universe. Truly a perfect mix of characters and personalities.
However, the movie kinda ruined it a bit.
Maybe it’s just me, but I felt the characters in the movie to become quite annoying at some point. It was okay reading Nobita whining in the comics and listening to him cry in the anime series, but the movie kinda overdid it to the point it became extremely annoying (but it was funny, nonetheless). Suneo and Giant still retain their antagonist traits, but most of the time, they are there for comic relief. Shizuka is by far the best character in the cast because she stays true to her original character in the movie. And is it just me, or is Doraemon’s voice irritating?
I was amazed by the visuals. Usually, CGI breaks the quality by showing awkward characters moving around in weird fashion. But Doraemon does way better than that. The CG animation blends childishness, cuteness, and awesomeness perfectly. The characters move fluidly, their expressions are vividly portrayed to the point of being really fucking funny at some points, and they interact with each other and the environment naturally. Truly magnificent.
Doraemon’s gadgets were also displayed quite nicely. The Takecopter, for instance. And the Anywhere Door. But, gadgets aside, I really loved how they made futuristic Tokyo.
I was never one to appreciate music, but Doraemon’s soundtrack perfectly matches the nuance of the movie. From when Nobita falls in love on first sight with Shizuka, to when Doraemon finally leaves forever. It’s… wonderful.
A must-watch movie of the year, challenged only by the animation of Big Hero 6. However, if you’re watching this at Blitz, the movie is marred by minor technical errors, especially translation. For the women out there, prepare your tissues, as you have a high chance of crying when listening to Shizuka’s dad talking on marriage. And for the men, seize the opportunity goddammit. Anyway, if you’ve been following the series, you wouldn’t be surprised at the story per se, but remember, this is the movie that finally ends everything. Let that sink in and go watch it already.