Fujiko Fujio, Hiroshi Fujimoto and Motoo Abiko the creators behind Doraemon

Hiroshi Fujimoto and Motoo Abiko were both from Toyama, Japan. Fujimoto was born on December 1, 1933 and Abiko on March 10, 1934. In 1944, when they were both elementary school students, Abiko transferred to Fujimoto’s school and they found they both liked drawing. After entering junior high school, they remained friends although they went to different schools. While they were junior high school students (1946–1948), they were excited by a comic book written by Osamu Tezuka, Shin Takarajima (New Treasure Island). They published their own manga coterie magazines. They were also impressed by Tezuka’s Lost World and Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and they wrote fan letters to them. When they became high school students, they started writing manga for the readers’ columns of various publishers. They made their debut in Tenshi no Tama-chan. They earned money from this, so they visited Tezuka’s house in Takarazuka, Hyōgo, before they graduated from high school.

Because both Fujimoto and Abiko were both eldest sons, they decided to take company jobs after graduating from high school in 1952. Fujimoto joined a confectionery company, and Abiko began working for a local newspaper publisher. However, Fujimoto quickly quit the job because of injury. Abiko managed to be consistent with manga. While Abiko was working for the company, Fujimoto took a central role in contributing serial manga. At this time, their pen name was Ashizuka Fujio. In 1953 they published Utopia: The Last World War (UTOPIA—最後の世界大戦 UTOPIA: Saigo no Sekai Taisen). The next year (1954), they decided to go to Tokyo in order to become professional manga artists. They formed a mangaka group called New Manga Party (新漫画党 Shin Manga-to, the first period, 1954–1955; the second period, 1955–?) with Terada Hiroo and others. At first, Fujimoto and Abiko lodged at Ryōgoku; however, afterwards they moved to an apartment of Tokiwa-so where Hiroo lived.

They continued to draw manga day after day. A lot of editors of manga publishers visited and asked Fujiko Fujio to write serial manga. They became a popular mangaka. However, they lost their job during 1955 through the early 1956 because at the New Year of 1955 they returned home to Toyama, and they relaxed so much that they missed the deadlines of nearly all their manga. After this, they only barely recovered their credibility. In 1959, they left Tokiwa-so, and moved to Usagi-so, and then to Kawasaki, Kanagawa. Fujimoto got married in 1962 (at the age of 28). The next year, Fujiko Fujio received the Shogakukan Manga Award for their manga Susume Robot and Tebukuro Tecchan.

Fujimoto and Abiko established Studio Zero with Shin’ichi Suzuki, Shotaro Ishinomori, Jiro Tsunoda, Kiyoichi Tsunoda, and one employee. Later Fujio Akatsuka joined, and at its peak the studio employed about 80 people. They produced several animated films, for example, Astro Boy. Fujiko Fujio revived their popularity as mangaka again with Obake no Q-tarō in 1964. Both of them continued to write popular manga and anime, for example Ninja Hattori-kun, Kaibutsu-kun, Pāman, 21-emon, etc.

Fujimoto started writing Doraemon in 1970, and at the same time he started writing complete manga for young people. Doraemon at first did not attract children’s attention very much. However, three years later, Doraemon became an animated series on TV, and he became a popular character nationwide. Fujimoto was awarded a prize for Doraemon by Nihon Mangaka Association in 1973. On the other hand, Abiko wrote Black Salesman (later re-entitled Warau Salesman), autobiographical Manga-michi, etc. Abiko’s manga were aimed at young adults (Seinen) while Fujimoto’s were aimed at children (Kodomo). In spite of the enormous popularity in Asian countries, none of their works have ever been officially introduced to any English-speaking countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia or New Zealand.

Both Fujimoto and Abiko did however, travel the world. Abiko wrote manga about Mao Zedong based on a trip to China. A lot of trips helped Fujimoto to write manga, especially T.P. Bon.

In 1987, Fujimoto and Abiko ended their partnership, and after that, they worked independently.

From 1980 until his death in 23 September 1996 due to liver failure, Fujimoto wrote a series of long manga of Doraemon every year. The manga series were animated on the screen, and every year the animated films were a gold mine for the movie industry. In 1989, Fujimoto won two awards for Doraemon movies. Abiko’s Hattori the Ninja and Pro Golfer Saru were also animated with Doraemon on the screen.

What is DORAEMON? It is a humorous children’s manga (later a TV-series) about a boy named Nobi Nobita who is so unlucky, weak and lazy that his descendants had to send the family robot back in time to help him out. That robot is Doraemon (where the “Dora” is presumably based on the word “dora-neko,” or stray cat), and his four-dimensional pocket produces any number of futuristic gadgets and devices meant to help Nobita become something other than a complete failure in adulthood. Though smart and caring, Doraemon has his own foibles, and his partnership with Nobita produces both triumphs and disasters, hilarious situations and occasional poignant moments.

As a “gag” manga for children, the series has no real progression; our hero is always a fourth-grader, and rarely do changes carry over from story to story. As a glimpse into Japanese family life, though, DORAEMON is priceless. We see Nobita’s parents as very typical for Japan of the 1970s, with the father a stocky and mellow salaryman, and the mother a hardworking housewife whose job it is to make sure Nobita studies hard and does his chores. Although ferocious when angry, she is also caring and smart; at heart she just wants her son to grow up to become a decent, hardworking adult with a bright future. Nobita’s friends include the class bully nicknamed Gian (presumably based on the word “giant”), the class rich kid Suneo who usually acts as Gian’s lieutenant, the gentle and smart girl Shizuka and the occasionally appearing super-brilliant Dekisugi (which can be read as “over done” or “overly perfect”). There’s also their schoolteacher, a stern man who has no compunction against sending Nobita off to stand in the hallway for being late. In all this, Doraemon acts as the childhood friend or older sibling we all wish we could’ve had: caring, smarter than us, with a sense of justice, imperfect and fallible enough to not be irritating, and with a magic pocket that can produce the solution to any problem.

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