I am a huge Doraemon fan. The simple fact that I could experience Doraemon movie in the digital cinema, equipped with latest sound system, had already pleased me beyond measure. Prepare for a very biased, spoiler-containing, review.
The primer: Doraemon’s bell was stolen by the famous thief, DX. Doraemon refused to buy a new bell and insisted on looking for the old one at all cost. Using clues from the Sherlock Holmes set, Nobita and friends were led to the gadget museum in the 22nd century only to find that many other gadgets were also stolen. Why did the thief from the future want Doraemon’s broken bell? Was there some evil agenda behind all the seemingly irrelevant events? And most importantly, why was this broken bell so important to Doraemon?
Sticking with 2D animation: absolute win!
There is no greater admirer of 2D animation than I am. I have seen a handful of older Doraemon movies which used computer generated animation. It was painful. CG animation looked out-dated quickly and they were dry and lifeless. Hand drawn animations, especially the ones with lots of work put into them, are charming and endure the time. Fair amount of CGI was used in combination with hand drawn images in this movie but the overall style remained old school. I thought the movie looked great. The quality of animation easily met today’s standard and it also aligned well with the style of previous Doraemon movies, even the really old ones.
Efficient use of the same formula
All Doraemon feature films shared the same structure. An event occurred to Nobita that either affected him or the entire world and then Nobita and friends embarked on a journey that would lead them to a strange world. There would be at least one major new character that act like the guide through this new world. The movie typically culminated with Nobita and friends saving that world from disaster and saving our world in the process.
This movie utilized this same structure of storytelling. Nobita and company travelled to the futuristic gadget museum. Kurt was the guide (he was literally working as a guide for the museum) who showed Nobita around and eventually played an integral part to the story. And the ending was not hard to guess. An experiment went wrong and nearly destroyed the museum and possibly the entire world. Despite this familiar formula, the movie succeeded in keeping me interested mostly by clever use of added details. I loved the little story behind Doraemon’s stolen cat bell. The scene where Doraemon revealed the reason of his obsession with the bell even if it was broken could easily be the most poignant scene in the entire movie.
Keeping the fans happy with familiar gadgets
Talking about fascinating details, Nobita’s Secret Gadget Museum hit the jackpot when they included numerous famous gadgets into the story. The nostalgic effect was strong in this movie as I got to see several beloved gadgets of old brought to life again. They even showed older versions of some gadgets! Plus, the process of making and repairing the gadgets were also displayed in depth. I especially liked the details regarding the metal used to create all the magical tools and how this back-story was also cleverly woven into the main plot of the movie.
One of the few times that Doraemon the movie had no evil character
Doraemon movies traditionally contained at least one evil character who would either try to rule or destroy the world without plausible explanation. Interestingly, Nobita’s Secret Gadget Museum had no evil character. Of course there was the event that posed a threat to the world but it was a result of misplaced ambition rather than pure malice. In the final struggle, every character had to work together to avert the catastrophe. Conflicts were solved without anyone getting killed. Of course, this is nothing special in general. But for Doraemon movies, it was a nice change.
General remarks and conclusion
I watched this movie on the big screen and it was a great experience. The animation was almost flawlessly fluid, while the CG part was barely recognizable. I had a lot of fun watching it and it helped pulled me out of my stressful daily life at least for a while. I used to think that I might outgrow Doraemon movies or that it would simply become outdated in the current time. But this 2013 Doraemon entry proved me wrong.
Title: Doraemon: Nobita’s Secret Gadget Museum (aka Doraemon: Nobita no Himitsu Dogu Museum)
Released date: March 9, 2013
Running time: 104 minutes
Director: Yukiyo Teramoto
Animated by: Toho Animation