Doraemon’s World–wide Popularity and Copyright Issues

  • The popularity of Doraemon has indeed spread globally and not even political clashes between Japan and China could stop people from access the story of this cute robotic cat that came from the future, to be exact September 03, 2112. And although piracy is a crime, it somehow became an instrument for deprived Asian neighbors to be in contact with Doraemon. As Doraemon travels back to the past he meets the characters of Nobita, Takeshi (also known as “Jiyan”) and Suneo. Together, these characters tell the story of adventure, hopes and dreams in a daily life setting.

    Doraemon before the Piracy Wave

    Doraemon was created in 1969, which was the golden age of manga industry in Japan. About 1,350 episodes of Doraemon were published from 1969 to 1996 including more than 12 volumes of the book. In 1979, Fujiko F. Fujio’s creation, the story of Doraemon was adapted for an anime tv series. The anime tv series adaptation was followed by a movie adaptation. The popularity of Doraemon hit Japan, selling 15 million copies upon republishing the 19-volume comics in February 1980–five months after the anime tv series and the movie was released in October 1979.

    Perhaps the reason why Doraemon had such a huge fanbase is that the story was given a realistic image of a childhood that middle-class Asian countries had dreamed of. Thanks to Doraemon’s gadget which has the power to shrink Nobita giving him the access to the virtual world—a dream come true. Also, everyone can relate to the mundane things that happen to Nobita every day where he argues with his friends, is reprimanded by his mother, and deals with the difficulties of his homework.

    Before Doraemon was released as an anime tv series and as a movie, the first pirated edition of Doraemon appeared in Hong Kong in the 1970s. The piracy wave of Doraemon soon spread in Taiwan, South Korea, Thailand and Indonesia. Pirated editions still spread in neighboring Asian countries although the rights to publish the material were already obtained. And even though the manga was not well promoted, the interest of other countries in Doraemon continues to grow. A huge underground market was formed in Hong Kong and Thailand as piracy continued despite the Universal Copyright Convention.

    Given the huge fanbase of Doraemon manga series, there was also a sharp increase in the number of fans as the manga series was adapted into a tv version resulting in Doraemon becoming a global hit. By 1993, the animated version of Doraemon was aired in 19 countries with manga published in 8 countries.

    Doraemon anime tv series was first broadcasted abroad in Hong Kong in February 1982. The tv series was then aired in Thailand and Italy in the same year reaching another 9 more countries in the Central and South America except the US. However, in 1985, CNN finally secured the rights to broadcast Doraemon.

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