Like many fortunate kids, I grew up with Doraemon. The often funny, sometimes uplifting, and rarely, tear-jerking, story is loved by many around the world. There are so many life lessons to reap from the day-to-day lives of Nobita, Doraemon, Shizuka, Giant, and Suneo. However, we are not going to talk about that. Instead, we will be looking and, I hope, appreciating, the various imaginative and futuristic gadgets that Doraemon has in his four-dimensional pocket.
Doraemon’s History and Legacy
Doraemon (ドラえもん) was penned by Fujiko Fujio, the pen name of a mangaka duo. First written as a manga in 1969, it became one of Japan’s most beloved franchise. The TV series that came after lasted many years, running from the 1970s all the way to early 2000s. Along the way, there were many movies telling the adventures of Doraemon, Nobita, and their friends. Some of the older ones have recently been reworked with better production quality.
Yes, there are many beloved franchises in Japan such as One Piece, Pokémon, Anpanman (http://yattatachi.com/tbt-anpanman), Hello Kitty, and more. Doraemon has the honor of being Japan’s first anime ambassador, bestowed to him in 2008, and even beat Hello Kitty as the potential 2020 Summer Olympic mascot.
Doraemon is a robot cat sent from the 22nd century via a time machine to aid Nobita Nobi. The person who sent it was Sewashi Nobi, Nobita’s great-great-grandson. Sewashi wants to help his great-great-grandpa to live an easier life with the aid of Doraemon. Nobita is famous for being lazy, cowardly, physically weak, scheming, clumsy, childish, and not-so-smart. He is also an easy target for the bully duo, Takeshi “Gian” Goda and Suneo Honekawa. Nobita also has a huge crush on Shizuka Minamoto whom, as revealed to him via various sources, he will eventually marry.
The manga and TV shows tell episodic stories of Nobita and Doraemon’s daily lives and the troubles they encounter. To me, some of the more memorable stories are the where Nobita, despite failing at doing something, realizes that he needs to put in the effort to succeed. Those stories are very uncommon and help remind us to keep trying. Some of them even show the complexities of Nobita’s personality, because aside from the negative traits, he is, at his core, humble, friendly, just, and a nice person.
Among the many gadgets that Doraemon possesses, some are more popular than others. Usually the popular and often-used tools are versatile and useful. While the less-popular ones are usually used once in a chapter or episode. Those gadgets usually have very specific uses or turn out to be duds.
Doraemon’s Fourth-Dimensional Pocket can hold anything regardless of size and weight. Doraemon always uses this pocket to pull out a gadget. The pocket has an ability to stretch the dimensions of the items being put into or pulled out. All Doraemon or another user has to do is imagine or recall the item they want to take out. It is presumed that the in the weird dimension time stops moving, essentially preserving the item for an undefined period of time. Once in a while, Doraemon would lend Nobita a spare pocket that connects to the same dimension that Doraemon’s pocket is using. In one of the longer stories, the spare pocket helped Nobita in saving Doraemon after Nobita forcefully goes into the spare and comes out of Doraemon’s pocket.
Dokodemo Doa (どこでもドア, or Anywhere Door) is my personal favorite gadget. This door is probably the second or third most-used gadget in Doraemon history. I think it ties with the Take-copter below in terms of appearance. The user only needs to say where s/he wants to go and the Door will open to the location. It can travel to a location that is ten light-years away, presumably from Earth. Aside from being very convenient and time-saving, this gadget can also be dangerous if it falls to the wrong hands. I would like to think that the reason Doraemon does not place this Door out in Nobita’s room is to limit Nobita’s over-dependency on gadgets. I also do not think the immigration and national security organizations would like this device.
Many of us really want to be able to fly and this device grants us just that. This is my second favorite tool.The Take-copter (タケコプター), or Bamboo-Copter (take is Japanese for bamboo), has a couple of running gags. One: despite owning multiple Take-copters, some or all of them will be broken or in need of repairs. This may necessitate the introduction of a new gadget. Two: usually in longer stories, the Take-copters’ battery run out when Nobita and friends are being chased by the bad guys. Again, this may cause Doraemon to take out another gadget for traversal. The Take-copter has gone through a couple of design changes over the years.
The Time Machine is not an actual tool that Doraemon summons from his pocket. It is the primary mean of transport for when Doraemon first visited Nobita in the first chapter of the manga. It is often used for many different reasons including; cheating on school tests, visiting Nobita’s now-deceased grandma back in time, visiting Nobita’s future self, and more. Just like the Take-copter, Doraemon’s time machine can sometimes break down. One reason is because Doraemon’s time machine model is not the higher-end model.
Truthfully, the time machine is not the most imaginative equipment because there has been many predecessors to it. I think what makes the time machine in Doraemon interesting is how time travel is depicted in the series. There is a Time Patrol squad who keeps time paradoxes to a minimum, future criminals traveling through time, and time-traveling delivery services.
Big Light and Small Light
The Big Light and Small Light are two different devices. The Big Light enlarges an object while the Small Light shrinks it. These two gadgets have also gone through a couple of design changes over the decades. I think the longer the object gets illuminated, the smaller/bigger it gets. There are many creative ways to use the lights in different situations. I wonder why these two gadgets are not used more often in conjunction with others. I also wonder if everything that the light shines on should be altered as opposed to the object at the center. Am I thinking about this too much?
Another item with potentially many creative uses, the Time Furoshiki (タイムふろしき or Time Cloth) is a two-sided cloth that can be used to advance or reverse time depending on which side is used to cover an item. It will only activate on an object that it covers or is wrapped over. I wonder if I can use it to cover a half finished bowl of ramen and get free seconds. Dangerous thoughts.
Also called the Translation Gummy, ほんやくコンニャク (Honyaku Konnyaku) is an edible Rosetta Stone that is able to translate any languages. It also seems to work on animals. It is based on konjac jelly snack used in Japanese cuisine. As seen in Nobita’s longer stories and movies, the translation also works on languages from different time periods and places. It is an extremely practical tool that also functions as an easy-fix storytelling device. Once in a while I wonder how the jelly works. Is it made of Nanobots that send and receive data and able to simultaneously translate? I am clearly over-thinking it.
This bag or purse is able to pull out a person or an item that the user thinks of. The original Japanese name is 取り寄せバッグ (Toriyose Baggu). It is able to take real-world items such as food from the fridge while the user is at school or one of Nobita’s friends. Sometimes the target, person or animal, may strongly refuse to be taken. At these times, the bag will electrocute the user and the process fails. Handy for when you forget to bring something or someone.
What-If Phone Booth
もしもボックス (Moshimo Bokkusu or What-If Box) is a phone booth that acts like a wish-granting well. The phone booth will grant the user a what-if scenario after the user picks up the phone, say, “What if …,” and hangs the phone up. This device is used several times throughout the series. It is hinted that it transports the user to one of the infinite multiverses that exist in the series. It is even used as the catalyst in the movie Doraemon: Nobita’s New Great Adventure into the Underworld – The Seven Magic Users. In that story, Nobita wishes that the world uses magic thinking that it would–ahem–magically makes things easier. Nobita’s wish was granted, but in that world magic needs to be learned, just like other skills in the real world. Moreover, that world is plagued with sinister foretelling of demonic beings.
There are many more gadgets that you can read about in the manga or watch on TV. I took the imagination of Fujiko Fujio duo for granted when I was younger. Just like a few other TBT posts I have written, I have come to appreciate and see how much creativity was poured into the series.
Hey, if you are familiar with Doraemon, I want to hear what your favorite gadgets are. Leave some comments below!
Sources: Doraemon Wikia, Wikipedia (Doraemon), Japan Times (Doraemon for Olympic Games Ambassador), and NBC News (Japan Appoints Cartoon Ambassador).
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