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Runtime: 96 minutes
Directors: Ryuichi Yagi and Takashi Yamazaki
Writers: Takashi Yamazaki
Cast: Wasabi Mizuta, Megumi Oohara, Satoshi Tsumabuki, Yumi Kakazu, Tomokazu Seki, Subaru Kimura
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
No matter how old we get, there's always that part of us that will be a frightened, vulnerable child that needs comforting. And this is exactly what Stand By Me Doraemon 2 taps on, by showing us a version of Nobita (Megumi Oohara) who's grown up and adulting, but still very much the same child that we all know and love. The 3D animation has also improved by leaps and bounds from its 2014 predecessor, and it shows.
Stand By Me Doraemon 2 is a 3D-animated film that's a sequel to 2014's Stand By Me Doraemon. It sees Nobita travelling back in time to meet his grandmother, even as he tries his best to make her proud of him. The film also depicts Nobita and Shizuka's wedding, with the usual hijinks that the protagonist always gets involved in. Ultimately, the only person who can save Nobita this time is Nobita himself.
Watching Nobita get married is probably the biggest payoff of the film, especially for longtime Doraemon fans. We all know that he'll eventually end up with Shizuka (Yumi Kakazu), but to see it crystallised on screen brings about all sorts of feels. It also helps that Nobita is just as awkward as a child and an adult, in every sense of the word. This awkwardness is a nice nod to his vulnerability, and by extension, the vulnerability within all of us. Even though he's adulting by getting married, it doesn't mean that he's got everything figured out — far from it — and this strikes a chord with anyone who's, well, an adult. Unfortunately, it's this awkwardness that creates a whole host of other problems later in the film.
Despite the obstacles that he faces, it's rather endearing to see that the source of Nobita's bravery is his love for Shizuka. Because of that, he's willing to face up to overwhelming odds... but it's also the reason why he suffers from a bout of insecurity in the first place. His feelings for Shizuka are the emotional core of the show, both as a child and an adult.
However, emotions need to be depicted, and the film does that with many, many talking heads. The exposition and confessions are to be expected, but the climax of the show seems bogged down by so many talky scenes that the emotional resonance slowly deflates before it gets resolved. It's also a function of how the scenes are constructed, and the lack of movement when the characters are delivering their epic monologues.
Despite the dearth of movement (when there should be more), the 3D animation is fairly fluid and has kept pace with the times. The only issue is that the characters seem artificially constrained from moving at times, even though their actual movements carry believable weight and heft. It feels like there was some mandate or restrictions (budget, perhaps?) that prevented more action in the animation.
Thankfully, there's very little Gian (Subaru Kimura) and Suneo (Tomokazu Seki) in the movie. It knows that Nobita and Shizuka are the draw, so it places the focus on those two, rather than giving too much screen time to Nobita's rather annoying buddies. Thus, Gian and Suneo are much more tolerable in this film than in other Doraemon movies.
Stand By Me Doraemon 2 could have done with a little less dialogue and a little more action, but the animation still holds and it hits all the right notes for a Doraemon movie. It presents us with a character that we can all identify with, and yet still root for because of the purity of his motives. And for such an established franchise, it's remarkable that one of its main characters is still as relatable as ever.
Stand By Me Doraemon 2 opens in cinemas:
- 4 February, 2021 (Singapore)
- 19 February, 2021 (Indonesia)