Movie Review: Stand By Me Doraemon 3D (2014)

Stand By Me Doraemon Nobita still image

This 3D reboot of Doraemon is a visual and nostalgic success

Stand by Me Doraemon is loosely based on the first seven volumes of the highly entertaining and meaningful manga series created in 1969 by the late great Fujio F. Fujiko. For those who somehow aren’t familiar with the classic, Doraemon’s basically the iconic blue round ear-less robot cat the future who has a high-tech pocket that carries all sorts magical gadget that could solve practically any problem but with limitations. He is ordered by Nobita’s great-great grandson Sewashi to stay and help the young Nobita of the present timeline before he ends up marrying the big bully Gian’s sister Jaiko instead of the love of his life, Shizuka.

The film retells the origin story (but leaves out some minor details) while revisiting some of the gadgets that Doraemon introduces to help the lazy, unintelligent and cowardice Nobita to deal with his constant struggles with school, house chores, bullies and romance. Through themes such as friendship, romance and self-belief, the approach here is far more emotionally engaging than ever before in the franchise. You’ve been warned; with both nostalgia and touching moments combined, expect to feel a lot of onion-cutting ninjas around (basically what I mean is that it can be very tear-jerking). The story may be a little too familiar to old fans like myself as it will always be memorable for those who grew up reading the manga or watching the anime series, but this feature film-remake works for both old fans who seek nostalgia, and for new young audiences who will get to enjoy the classic in new, updated CG visuals.

stand by me doraemon cry still image

Initially, I was a bit concerned with the approach of changing from the usual 2D hand-drawn style into three-dimensional visuals but it turned out are more impressive than I was expecting. It is exactly how the Doraemon should be if it was in 3D. It is extremely cute, rich with expressions, and it’s done without messing with any part of its original appearance design, movement or personality. The upgraded representation of the other characters and environments are spot on as well. There are also new fun stuff like the long 3D-thrill ride sequence of the characters flying around during in the future (filled with brand placements). The new and ongoing cast did a very good job being faithful to the voice of the characters. The comedic sounds and music including the theme song are completely replaced by pop ballads and orchestral scores. The film would’ve hit a home run for nostalgia if there was a string rendition of the theme song.

The storyline, however, is not as tightly written as it could’ve been. The flaws of the origin story are not fixed (if Nobita’s descendants in the future are so poor, how did they afford a robot like Doraemon and its gadgets, and why can’t they just use him to help out?), Nobita’s parents are sidelined more than ever before, there aren’t really any new jokes, there aren’t any surprises, and the character and story development is a little too rushed – I didn’t feel engaged by Nobita’s miserable situations and the film doesn’t stick with any Doraemon gadget long enough make me wish I had a Doraemon as much as I used to. That fun feeling of having Doraemon, friends and innocence is lacking compared to the manga and anime series. The moral values are also not as strongly delivered as the source material because an ongoing Doraemon film would not have the same moral-of-the-story impact as having an ultimate outcome per episode/chapter ending.

Nobita Doraemon take-copter hop copter flying Stand By Me still images

The story also has a massive loop hole with its time travel plot and it’s not a “hen or the egg came first” issue. Skip the rest of this paragraph if you do not wish to read the minor spoilers. Now, time paradoxes are common in most films that involves time travelling, and this one could’ve been easily ignored and forgiven if it didn’t contradict its own logic in the crucial scene where Nobita forces himself to remember an unfortunate incident so that the future him would come and save the day. So if whatever changes made in the past would immediately affect the future, why doesn’t Nobita’s happy ending (of marrying Shizuka) affect his great-great grandson’s existence? Sewashi wouldn’t exist if Nobita doesn’t end up marrying Jaiko and if Sewashi seizes to exist, so will Doraemon, and without Doraemon’s help, Nobita wouldn’t get to marry Shizuka.

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What I would’ve named the film: “My Childhood in 3D”

Malaysia censorship: I did not watch it at a local cinema but I would guess that the only sequence that might get cut here is the scene where Nobita lifts up Shizuka’s skirt. There isn’t any nude scene of Shizuka like in the original. Even if there is, you should be glad it’s censored.

To watch in 3D? Sadly, 3D format of this film is not available in Malaysia.

Second opinion: My girlfriend felt that it was nice, cute and basically satisfying in overall despite the familiar storyline.

Verdict: The familiar storyline and chapters are not as impactful being retold in one film but it’s still very much Doraemon with very acceptable visual and music upgrades. It is nothing less than a nostalgically enjoyable walk down memory lane.

Rating: 3.5 / 5

Doraemon meme

Stand by Me doraemon meme

Based on
: Fujiko F. Fujio’s manga series “Doraemon”

Country / Language: Japan / Japanese or Malay
Genre: Family anime
Running Time: 95 Minutes
Directors: Ryuichi Yagi, Takashi Yamazaki
Screenwriter: Takashi Yamazaki
Voice Cast (Japanese): Wasabi Mizuta, Megumi Ōhara, Yumi Kakazu, Tomokazu Seki, Subaru Kimura

Malaysia Release Date: 29 January 2015 (TGV & MBO only)
Rated: U
Local Distributor: Mega Films Distributing Sdn. Bhd.
Production: Shirogumi, Robot Communications, Shin-Ei Animation

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  1. Azee M

    I haven't watch this yet so I didn't read your review. I will watch it soon and then I will read it. I feel like crying! It's so nostalgic and sad!

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