Nobita and the Leged of the Sun King was made after Fujiko F. Fujio passed away. This anime was the 21th installment of Doraemon movies. It clearly tried to stay true to its predecessors and it did quite well. Nevertheless, the movie stumbled because it was more about the Sun King than Nobita or Doraemon.
Similar to all other Doraemon movies which were always based on historical events or fairy tales, Nobita and the Legend of the Sun King took us back to Mayan civilization. Through technical accidents, the current time and Mayan time were connected. And by even more incredible coincidence, Nobita and the Sun King, Thio, looked alike and they managed to switch places. The arrogant king was stuck with Nobita’s mother (to his regrets) and Nobita found himself in the position of power.
The identity switch brought a refreshing twist to the familiar formula of Doraemon movies which almost always revolved around Doraemon travelling to a certain place and save it from crisis. Of course, Doraemon and friends eventually helped save the city from evil witch but this movie also spend some time toying with the two main characters; Nobita and Thio.
With that said, I couldn’t help feeling that this movie was more about Thio than Nobita or Doraemon. Don’t get me wrong. Nobita and the Legend of the Sun King was a good movie by general standard. But as a self-proclaimed Doraemon veteran, I think the movie came very close to losing focus on Doraemon and Nobita. It’s actually Thio’s coming of age story starting with him as a selfish crown prince, and then he was sent to Nobita’s house where he learned the value of love and family. In the end, he returned home and became the king his people had always wanted. Meanwhile, Nobita and Doraemon were, for the most part, just the supporting characters. Doraemon was there mostly for his extraordinary gadgets. Nobita had bigger role but his role was still less important and was less developed compared to Thio’s. And to my greatest regrets, Giant, Tsuneo and Shizuka were the ones who only tagged along. Their presence was obligatory, not necessary. The movie could have been named ‘The Sun King Thio and the visitors from the future’ and it would not be wrong.
Classic 2D animation style was still used back then giving the ‘old school’ vibe to the movie. The animation style could be hard to digest for newer viewers who were more familiar with the semi-3D style of Doraemon movies made in the 2000s.
As I grew older, I found that the villains and the perils that Doraemon and friends had to face in each movie were a bit childish and even funny sometimes. The witch in this movie could not be more cartoonish. But I didn’t mind that. I loved watching 4th grade children save the world, or in this case, save the civilization. In conclusion, despite all of my trivial complaints, Doraemon: Nobita and the Sun King was an entertaining non-remake Doraemon movie. It’s a pity that Doraemon and Nobita did not stay there long and the Mayan civilization still collapsed eventually.
Title: Doraemon: Nobita and the Legend of the Sun King
Genre: adventure, fantasy
Released date: March 4, 2000
Running time: 93 minutes
Director: Tsutomu Shibayama
Animated by: Asatsu Studio