Review: 'Doraemon: Nobita and the Birth of Japan 2016' is cute and adventurous

Gigazombie vs Dorazombie in “Doraemon: Nobita and the Birth of Japan 2016.” (Golden Village Pictures)

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

Secret ending? No.

Running time: 104 minutes (~1.75 hours)

“Doraemon: Nobita and the Birth of Japan 2016” is an animated film that’s the 36th one in the “Doraemon” franchise, and is also a remake of 1989’s “Doraemon: Nobita and the Birth of Japan.” It sees Doraemon, Nobita, and friends travelling back in time and getting involved in prehistoric problems. It features the voice talents of Wasabi Mizuta (Doraemon), Megumi Ohara (Nobita Nobi), Yumi Kakazu (Shizuka Minamoto), Subaru Kimura (Takeshi “Giant” Goda), and Tomokazu Seki (Suneo Honekawa).

“Doraemon: Nobita and the Birth of Japan 2016” sees a lot of costume changes for our cast (since they spend most of their screen time in caveman outfits) and story-wise, has a slightly different style from what we’re used to. It’s a sign of a good adaptation since it doesn’t feel old-fashioned, but also doesn’t feel quite in sync with the recent tone of modern movies (since the original story took place over 20 years ago). It’s a good entry into your “Doraemon” library though, and worth watching just to see what the gang is up to this time. And yes, we have so many “Doraemon” movies that they are now doing remakes of earlier movies.

Nobita and his cuddly new pets in “Doraemon: Nobita and the Birth of Japan 2016.” (Golden Village Pictures)


More gadgets than ever

Doraemon pulls out a gadget every other scene in the film. It’s not always a deus ex machina, but more as a supplement or plot device to move the story along. Many of them are actually very practical gadgets that show how Doraemon could feasibly start an entire civilisation by himself. One of the appeals of the “Doraemon” franchise is the wish fulfillment that comes from having any gadget to solve any problem, and this film has it in spades.

Cute creatures

There’s a distinct Pokemon vibe with the three fantastic creatures Pega, Draco, and Gris, even though these are ideas pulled from 1989. But they’re adorable monsters (which don’t fit in your pocket), and serve useful functions as well. They also give us a chance to see Nobita’s greatest strength, his heart, and are more than just the cute mascots to attract children to watch the film.

Adventurous premise and plot

It’s a time travel adventure where they get to change (or at least witness) the course of history! You don’t normally get grander ideas than that from a “Doraemon” film. The characters also spend a lot of time adventuring, and they’re a competent lot while exploring that ancient era. It’s a larger than life plot that fits in perfectly with the cuddly fantasy creatures and creative gadgets, and helps immerse you into the world of Nobita and his friends.

Kukuru meets the gang in “Doraemon: Nobita and the Birth of Japan 2016.” (Golden Village Pictures)


Little character development

Sadly, all that adventure and plot come at an expense — character development. Besides Nobita and Doraemon, the other three main characters hardly have any development over the show. Poor Shizuka suffers the most, since she’s sidelined to just delivering functional dialogue and being part of their five-man team. It’s definitely not as touching as earlier instalments.

Kukuru’s miniscule role

Because you see Kukuru from the start of the film, it creates the expectation that he will play a large part in the resolution of the film, which he doesn’t. He isn’t even really one of the main characters of the film, but his backstory and character pique your interest from the opening vignette. It’s a case of misaligned expectations, and Kukuru’s role should either have been expanded or dropped.

Time travelling in “Doraemon: Nobita and the Birth of Japan 2016.” (Golden Village Pictures)

“Doraemon: Nobita and the Birth of Japan 2016” is one of the more fun “Doraemon” adventures, and is a good variant on the recent “Doraemon” fare.

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

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

Score: 3.0/5

“Doraemon: Nobita and the Birth of Japan 2016” opens in cinemas 9 June, 2016 (Thursday).