Monthly Archives: February 2013

Doraemon- The love that never gets old

Since I was doing a class on comics and their principles regarding form, content, and other visual elements; I am compelled to write about my all time favorite manga (Japanese comic) Doraemon, and the technologies that still relevant in today world.

Doraemon

I think comic still thought of a child thing. Yet, comic fans would disagree with you. There are deep themes, and many other fascinating things inside a comic that other literature forms couldn’t express. Given this manga series was first introduced to the public in 1969, the ideas in this series are well alive today. Doraemon never ages, and never dies–in all sense possible.

Doraemon was first translated, and published in Vietnam around 20 years ago. I felt in love right away the first time I picked up this one when I was around 5 or 6 years old. Author Fujiko F. Fujio is a genius. He has given kids to adult not only a great fun, memories, and also beliefs in the awesomeness of future technology.

Distance–something that the human kind has spent a great amount of knowledge, money, and time to research for the best possible technology that brings people close together: from a train, a plane, a mobile phone, to a possible kinetic machine not so far in near future (hopefully). Yet, physical distance still doesn’t get that much closer for people living half way around the world from each other- a twenty something hours of sitting on the plane, accompany by jetlag, custom lines, and luggages–nah doesn’t sound so good.

Yet, Mr. Fujio has thought of a better way for us all:

Doraemon kinetic phone

Doraemon-kinetic phone

Doraemon kinetic phone

Turning a child toy that is easy and cheap to make, he lets the imagination fly! Perhaps these imagination is what others deem comic as a child thing. But think about it! Everyone is a child in a big body. Imagination is what bringing forth reality. If the Wright brothers didn’t imagine they could fly, what would be the ground to push them to make the first airplane? Imagination–it’s all what matters.

He also has this great other door–it opens to every where you want to go to.

Doraemon door

Nostalgia, a wonder about what history was like, the worry about what future may hold–it’s all the things that occupy our heads from time to time. Worry free, why? Because Doraemon has this awesome time-machine that is hidden inside Nobita’s desk drawer.

Doraemon time machine

Doraemon time machine

Memory, or the ability to remember something is important. Nowadays, people are taking pills to improve their memories. They have intensive workshops that work on how to best remember things. The abundance of information made available by the world wide web, or everyday interactions doesn’t help us getting better. A familiar scenario is cramping knowledge into your head before a test. Well, there is a better way to do it – very natural, and easy, not time consuming (but you will need a big tummy)!

Doraemon memorizing toast

Doraemon memorizing toast

There are just a few examples. Truth be told, Mr. Fujio isn’t that all optimistic about these inventions either. Doraemon is a representation of technology. He is portrayed at a hero, with many awesome tricks in that little pocket he wears on the tummy. But, there is so much a hero could do. At the end of each chapter, you would see how he portrays the negative setbacks if one is too dependent or have excessive use of that technology. The great door would have glitch: the knob would stuck and you couldn’t go back to where you were. The time machines sometimes would have problems, and would required constant maintenance (sounds like your current car?). You couldn’t eat the toast forever. And that knowledge would be valid until your next trip to the restroom.

Doraemon is not just a comic. It’s a book of the promises technology hold for you. It’s the imagination. Or better, it’s a scrapbook of ideas for scientists, quantum physicists, doctors, engineers, or anyone. The series has become so popular in Asia that it’s part of a culture. Often enough, you would tremble upon Doraemon memes from the Asian community on their Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or other social networking platforms.

A meme on how Vietnamese people were so sad that their New Year celebration has ended, meaning going back to work, school, and everyday life routines.

The comic vocabularies also get infused into everyday language. For example, you would get  compliments referred to the characters from this comic.

I would encourage you to pick up this awesome series (the link will take you to the mangafox.me, where you could read it in English) if you haven’t heard of it. I promise you, it doesn’t waste your time. Indeed, I believe there would be so many things you will keep at heart as time goes by.

A conversation with my head

Dogs bark.

Chickens cluck.

Cows moo.

And how do you know that? You know because someone have told you so. You might know what the animals do, but you don’t know what to call their actions. If you think about it, someone would have to come up with the name for these actions. Then by repeating it enough times, people would start thinking that it’s normal the animals do these actions. Imagine hearing someone says:

Dogs moo.

Chickens bark.

Cows cluck.

What would you think? “Ey, you there!!! You get it all wrong. Dogs don’t moo, cows don’t cluck, and chickens don’t bark!” 

You think that person is wrong, because it seems so natural to you that these animals don’t do such things. But to some people, your normal world seems like another planet. In this world, there is a small portion of the population that can’t hear, see, or speak.

“So?” –you may ask. The mute doesn’t speak. The blind doesn’t see. And the deaf doesn’t hear. So that means if the mute knows cows moo, they can’t say it. The blind can hear “mooooooooo” but does not know where that sound comes from. The deaf can only see the cows’ mouth moving, and hearing no sound.

“What are you getting at?”–Well, I am just saying. Language is a way of communicating. It seems normal. It seems easy. But it is a extremely complicated and complex system. It’s not just sound. And it’s not for everyone.

Have you ever ask a child to describe something to you? Or have you ever played the game Taboo? Or have you ever walked into a very dark room, and try to navigate yourself without knowing what is in front of you?

Sometimes, language consists more than just words or vocabularies. They are actions, motions, guesses, and whole bunch of other things.

“You are boring!”–Okay, then let’s play a game with me. See if you can win. I will blindfold you, ask someone to give you something (maybe an object), and you will have to describe it to me. No peeping.

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Ready?–“Yes”–Okay, begin!

“Hmmm. I don’t know. This feels cold. Not too heavy. Uhm. Maybe plastic?”–You need to be more specific!

“I’m trying. Let’s see! You can open it up. There is glass. A rubber part. Some buttons. Can you guess what it is? I think I know what this is.”–You can’t tell me. Your job is to describe, my job is to guess.

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Okay, let’s move on to the next game. I am still blindfolding you, but I will walk you into one of my rooms. You will have to guess what room you are in, and try to navigate yourself out. I will be watching! Ready? —“Shouldn’t be that hard! Let’s do this!”

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“Woa. This is dark. Ouch! I think I just hit a table. Wait! This isn’t a table. What is this. Hmm. Glass. Is it a mirror? Wait, there is something next to it. Fluffy, smell good. Is this your closet?”–No, no, you are not in my closet! You won’t even have space to move in there, let alone walking around. C’mon. Explore!

“I know what this is. This is small enough to be a picture frame. Hmm. Drawers. What are those? Sleek. Ahhh. Books. Must be your shelves. OUCH! I just hit something again. Seems like heavy metal. Table? Rough surface. Cold. Do you have a safe in here?“–Nah. I don’t have much to put in a safe. I think a box under my bed is good enough. You are such a chicken. You only move a few feet and already whining.

“Why don’t you try this? It’s not easy to walk blind!”–Now, you see what I mean about the blind. You can’t quit yet. Do a better job!

“Who says anything about quitting? I can hear a clock ticking. That clock is somewhere behind me. Ah, a rug.”–How do you know it’s a rug?

“Well, it feels soft on my feet, and not cold like when we were out there on the tiles. Plus, this doesn’t feel harsh like a doormat. What else you put on the floor that could feel like this?”I don’t know, maybe my sleeping bag? It feels just like you describe. Anyways, so can you tell me yet what room you are in?

“I think so. It’s…”

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Now you see what I mean? Even for a person like you, when your sight is limited, you still had a hard time figuring things out yourself, let alone letting someone to understand you. You can speak. You can use words to describe what things feel like to you. You rely on me knowing the same things to figure out what you say. But not everyone is like that. Sometimes what you see is not what I see. You see blue, but I don’t see that shade of color because where I stand would get a different reflection of light. Language is not absolute. Like everything else. Nothing is absolute. So the next time, you hear me say I hear my dog moos. Don’t laugh! Maybe that’s what the dogs do. They moo. And somewhere in the course of history of language, we just end up associate “mooing” with cows.

You know, maybe. Just maybe. Like I said, nothing in this world is absolute.