Review: Doraemon: Nobita and the Green Giant 2008 benefits from first class production quality. The show has the trademarks of Doraemon franchise all over it and a really good premise about environmentalism but with poor execution and direction, the movie crashes and burns.
This 2008 feature length film is an extension and re-imagination of an old short chapter of the manga. Nobita brings home a small tree and Doraemon, using his scientifically magical equipment, helps give the tree intelligence and ability to move around. They become friends and the tree is named Kebo. In the end of the chapter, Kebo chooses to leave Earth to join an alien fleet whose purpose is to explore the universe. Well, this movie is pretty much the same except that everything is much more prolonged and this time, in the second half of the movie, we get to see where Kebo goes; the Green Planet.
First of all, Kebo is annoying. He repetitively makes the same squeaky noise that is supposed to make him cute but, instead, results in the opposite. He always purposelessly runs around without taking any significant action. And his being the key to resurrect the Green Giant is never properly explained making the whole ending sequence literally non-substantial; a commotion of visuals and motions.
The second half takes place on the Green Planet. This part is like taking a tour; Doraemon and friends visit the palace then take a walk to many areas of the planet and meets the inhabitants of various species. Children may be thrilled by these wondrous beings and colorful settings but I was upset because there was no sense of direction. Strange new characters, one after another, pop up and disappear with no real meaning to their existences. Worse, even the main characters in Doraemon’s own company like Shitzuka, Tsuneo and Giant seem to be merely tagging along. I don’t recall them doing anything except appearing in the background.
The anime tries to include many themes and fails in all of them. Environmentalism is supposed to be the main thing but the anime does not pay much attention to it. Of course, there are lots and lots of trees and tree people around but the anime never clearly point out to human’s cruel deeds to nature. Thus, the green people’s idea of destroying Earth and punishing human seems too light and lacks good intention. The anti-war theme is also included into the story to a negative effect. During the end when the green giant is released and the green planet’s violent history is revealed, the direction of the movie is abruptly shifted. It’s no longer about environmentalism. It’s about foolish green people repeating their own mistake of using violence to solve problems. The theme of the show is shifted back and forth, interrupting each other, diluting each other and resulting in the viewer’s feeling of getting lost in the forest. What’s more, the Green Giant subplot sounds awfully like Nausicaa rip-off to me.
For the up side, the animation never looks this good. The art and movements is simply a feast to the eyes. What we see is further enhanced by the giant scale musical score that deserves to be witness in theater. I was sad that this epic production quality is significantly dimmed by the poor direction and script of the anime. It was a shame.
Conclusion: Despite all the fondling memories and my immeasurable love for Doraemon, I am still able to recognize a weak movie when I see one.
Title: Doraemon: Nobita and the Green Giant Legend
Genre: sci-fi, fantasy
Release date: 1 March 2008
Running Time: 112 minutes
Director: Ayumu Watanabe
Side note: I’m puzzled that this movie was nominated for Japanese Academy Prize for Animation of the Year. Maybe I missed something from the movie, I don’t know.