Review: 'Stand by Me Doraemon' will have you laughing and crying

Marcus Goh
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Nobita (Megumi Ohara) learns by eating Memory Bread from Doraemon (Wasabi Mizuta). (Golden Village Pictures)

Marcus Goh is a former Singapore television scriptwriter. He’s also a Transformers enthusiast and avid pop culture scholar. Tweets/Instagrams at Optimarcus and writes at marcusgohmarcusgoh.com. The views expressed are his own.

Secret ending? No, but there’s a “bloopers reel.”

Running time: 95 minutes (~1.5 hours)

"Stand by Me Doraemon" is a 3D animated comedy based on the Doraemon franchise. It follows the titular character’s journey from the future to help Nobita and how he fulfils his quest in the present day. It features the voice talents of Wasabi Mizuta (Doraemon), Megumi Ohara (Nobita), Yumi Kazaku (Shizuka), Tomokazu Seki (Suneo), and Subara Kimura (Gian).

"Stand by Me Doraemon" contains all the elements of a Doraemon story - namely, lots of lots of futuristic devices from his giant front pocket. Although the animation takes a while to settle into, by the end of Act One, audiences will have settled into the comfortingly familiar settings and situations that befits a usual Doraemon episode - a fitting send-off for the end of the Doraemon franchise.

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Doraemon’s first meal upon arriving from the future. (Golden Village Pictures)

Highlights

Development of Nobita and Doraemon’s relationship

At its core, the movie is a tale of friendship between these two most unlikely of characters. The development progresses imperceptibly - you hardly notice how the two are becoming friends. But the strong contrast between Doraemon’s initial reluctance to help Nobita and his declaration of what Nobita means to him at the end of the film show us just how far their relationship has developed, even if Nobita himself doesn’t realise it at that point.

Nobita’s coming-of-age

Despite his many faults and flaws at the start of the film, Nobita shows one persistent character trait - his desire to help others. It is this trait that spurs his character growth, and he redeems himself multiple times over the film through his sheer force of will and his love for the people around him. We leave the film feeling that Nobita truly deserves Doraemon, not because he’s so inept that he needs gadgets from the future, but because he’s a person who is worth of such a friend.

Heartbreaking climax

The climax of the film is a tearjerker. The lengths that Doraemon and Nobita will go to for each other, and their unspoken emotions are what makes the final events all the more painful for the audience to see. It’s not a tragic conclusion by any means, but the fact that neither realises how deep their friendship has become will tug on the heartstrings, and almost everyone in the cinema was sobbing at the finale.

A happy ending

Fortunately, the film leaves you with feel-good vibes when it finally ends. It provides a welcome outcome for the characters, and grows Doraemon and Nobita’s relationship from one of need and dependency, to that of interdependency and companionship.

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Doraemon displays the strange properties of his new device to Nobita. (Golden Village Pictures)

Letdowns

Nobita and to a lesser extent, Suneo, have pants that are obscenely short

Nobita’s shorts length doesn’t translate well into a 3D medium. Due to his movements, the camera angles, and the fact that his pants aren’t as fitting as in a 2D medium, his come off as distressingly short. Especially since he’s a 10-year-old. This results in a very disturbing look for both Nobita and Suneo.

Animation movements are sometimes awkward

The movements come off as too smooth and fluid in certain instances, especially when they’re smiling. At times, it looks too perfect, such as when they’re slowly smiling or when there are long, exaggerated movements. It lacks a certain organic flaw that would help their actions seem more believable.

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It’s Doraemon! (Golden Village Pictures)

"Stand by Me Doraemon" is a film for all ages - the comedic elements are everpresent for younger viewers, but the emotional resonance of Nobita and Doraemon’s relationship are what appeals to older viewers. It brings a satisfying close to the end of the Doraemon franchise for everyone.

Should you watch this at weekend movie ticket prices? Yes.

Should you watch this at weekday movie ticket prices? Definitely.

"Stand by Me Doraemon" opens in cinemas 11 December, 2014 (Thursday).