Worry over Doraemon cultural invasion is overreaction

By Liu Zhun Source:Global Times Published: 2014-9-28 23:58:03

Three local mainstream media outlets in Chengdu, capital city of Sichuan Province, fired verbal cannonballs at a recent exhibition featuring the Japanese manga character Doraemon. They warned people that this blue chubby robotic cat is a pioneer of Japan's "cultural intervention," "values promotion" and an "attempt to weaken the Chinese people's firm stance on historical issues."

This event in Chengdu was part of a touring exhibition, and it had already visited several cities, including Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing. But this was the first time that the exhibition, featuring an adorable earless cat, was criticized for selling ill-intentioned cuteness.

Global popularity entitles Doraemon to be a symbol of modern Japanese culture. It holds an important position in the childhood memory of the Chinese of the 1980s generation, as in the 1990s, Chinese-made cartoons still could not compare to their Japanese counterparts in most cases.

The concerns that Doraemon, as a carrier of Japanese culture, might have a negative impact on the Chinese public are a bit paranoid. Forcing a popular civil cultural product to be connected with imperialistic ideology is farfetched.

It is an overreaction that an animated cat is able to confound the majority of its Chinese viewers.

Doraemon's popularity can be observed from a more reasonable perspective. It is able to serve as a case study for China instead of a cultural threat.

In fact, perennial popularity does not only rely on the high quality of Doraemon-related animation, it is also dependent on the vigorous promotion of this character by the Japanese government, which conferred two ambassador titles of Japanese manga culture and the 2020 Olympic Games to the character.

Japan is fully aware of where its cultural competitive advantages reside, and it is integrating them into its soft power. Globalization facilitates the process that different cultures can find more space to communicate with one another, and cultural influence is playing an increasingly significant role in country-to-country relations.

Doraemon wooing so many fans reminds China that even one simple cultural symbol, be it a concept or virtual character, is capable of drawing people from different backgrounds to learn the culture. Chinese culture does not lack richness, but it is short of effective ways to promote itself.

Chinese culture needs to go global, but the first step is to tune up its mind and embrace the influence of other cultures. Doraemon cannot find an exact prototype from traditional Japanese culture, but it can still serve as a representative of Japanese culture. China should think about it.

Posted in: Observer

blog comments powered by Disqus