Gentlemen, I put it to you that this comic book about a robot cat lacks formal consistency

Doraemon (ドラえもん) is... eh, wikipedia. To summarise, he's a robot cat from the future, sent back to the present day by the descendants of NOBITA Nobi (野比のび太) to prevent Nobita from ruining his family. It's like Confucius meets the Terminator.

And, like the Terminator franchise, it initially seems to raise some troubling paradoxes. If Doraemon succeeds in his mission to make Nobita a conscientious student and hard worker, future generations of Nobita would have no need to send Doraemon back, and so... but wait -- it can be logically explained. You see, even with Doraemon around, Nobita still slacks off and fails academically. If anything, having access to all of Doraemon's neat gadgets makes Nobita spend even less time working.

That's the horrible, Twilight Zone twist, you see: Nobita's descendants already were living in a timeline where Doraemon had been sent back. Clearly, their only option is to send back another, more powerful robot to destroy Doraemon and prevent him from ruining Nobita's life.

Anyway, last week I read a genuinely eerie Doraemon story about a gadget called the "time warp reel". In the story, this is a device you can use to wind time forward. You don't actually warp through time -- you're still there in the intervening periods. You just don't remember them. What it really is is an amnesia reel.

At first Nobita uses it to shorten the wait for his friend Shizuka* to come home. Then he uses it to skip the wait until the TV show he wants to watch. Then on Christmas morning he gets a boring present from Santa (a set of biographies of famous, hard-working people like Lincoln and NOGUCHI Hideyo) and decides to skip ahead a whole year to see what next year's is. It, too, is boring, so he skips ahead again. And again. Finally he is an adult, and finally finds an interesting present under the tree -- but it's not for him, it's for his son.

That's when he realises: he's wasted his life. Worse -- he skipped it. And he remembers what Doraemon told him: "You can't ever get back the time you skip". And man, that is a genuinely chilling moment. I mean, logically you know that some exception will be made to whip him back to normal, but still. Freaky. Plus, who's been living his life all these years? He got married and gave birth to a son, he clearly hasn't just been zonked out. So where is the self that has been running things while his "real" self has been time-skipping? And what claim does his "real" self have to be "real" when it has spent less than an hour being his self over the past couple of decades?

These are not new philosophical issues, but I was surprised to see them appear, even indirectly, in a comic that ultimately is just about Nobita getting beaten up by Gian and scolded by his mom.

* She's also, incidentally, his future wife. There is no ambiguity about this and it's a little creepy because apparently Nobita knows but she doesn't.

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Wow I've been reading Shao Ding Dong (in Chinese, err Mandarin) since I was a kid, and now he's got a Wikipedia entry?! :)


Perhaps the explanation lies in parallel universe theory. Nobita is moved to an alternate universe which is identical, but on a different timeline.

But perhaps instead the truths expressed by Doraemon are, like those expressed by a koan, too subtle for reason, and thus the comic will not yield to deconstruction.


Doraemon as a whole is a fairly creepy affair. I mean Doraemon is hanging around with small children and always putting his hand into his umm...pocket (aka his crotch) and pulling out treats (gadgets) for the kids.


You guys wouldn't believe with how happy I am about the way those three comments sum up the various viewpoints from which one can view Doraemon.


1) Have you seen the fan comics that feature an evil Doraemon? Now that's creepy. Blood dripping from his teeth, like an bad clown.
2) My English class that chose for their debate topic, "Does Nobita Need Doraemon?" showed incredible enthusiasm during the debate planning session, getting more into it than any of the other classes. This is a very deep issue.


I watched a debate about that once at English camp. The denunciation of Doraemon was positively thunderous. "His dokodemo door and take-copter allow him to travel anywhere he wants, at will, whether he has permission or not -- he is little more than a terrorist!"

The evil Doraemons are just scary. I saw a few Flash parodies from 2ch, too, but I can't remember what they were called..

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