Doraemon, Japan’s most famous cat, will debut in the United States on the kids’ channel Disney XD this July.
Walt Disney Co said it will run 26 episodes of the iconic anime series in English starting this summer. The cartoon, initially launched in 1969 as a manga, has been broadcast in 35 countries, mainly in Asia, but this will be the first time it will be played in English.
Disney has made subtle changes in the cartoon for the American adaptation, which irked some Japanese Doraemon fans.
Instead of its original backdrop in Japan, the setting was moved to a fictional place in America. Japanese items were omitted with onscreen edits to make it look like the story is set on the other side of the world: om-rice (omelet with rice) were changed into pancakes, chopsticks were changed to forks, and Japanese yen notes were converted to US dollar bills.
In addition, some of the characters’ names were westernized. Nobita, Doraemon’s owner was renamed to “Noby,” the bully Gian to “Big G”, and the spoiled Suneo to “Sneech.”
Doraemon’s signature gadgets have also been translated literally: the magical portal Dokodemo Door is now the “Anywhere Door,” the flying contraption Takecopter is now the “Hopter,” the memorization tool Anki Pan is now “Memory Bread,” Kukiho is now “Air Cannon,” and Honyaku Konnyaku is now “Translation Gummy.”
Japanese signs were also translated to their English names to make it easier for children in the US to empathize with the cartoon, Disney said.
The visual and plot changes in the anime series stirred mixed sentiments in Japan, with some saying the edits may have gone overboard.
Created in 1969 by Fujiko Fuijo, the manga series about a robotic cat sent by a boy in the future to the present day to help the boy’s grandfather, Nobita. The comic book later became an anime series and premiered in Japan in 1973.
Three Japanese companies—TV Asahi, Fujiko F. Fujio Production and TV Asahi’s anime studio subsidiary Shinei Animation—sold the rights to American studios to produce an English version of Doraemon.
Doraemon’s premiere on American television is seen as a boost to the Japanese government’s “Cool Japan” slogan, which encourages export of its pop culture to promote tourism.
By Maesie Bertumen
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