Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Hiroshi Fujimoto

Hiroshi Fujimoto was one of the moving spirits in the great surge of enthusiasm in Japan for manga magazines, books, and movies. 
He worked in tandem with a close friend from schooldays, Abiko Motoo, born like Hiroshi in Toyama Prefecture. His date of birth made him only three months Hiroshi's junior. They used the pen-name of Fujio-Fujiko and lived together in the same small apartment in downtown Tokyo until their success as cartoonist storytellers allowed them to marry and buy palatial adjoining residences for their families.
Fujio-Fujiko first achieved fame with the children's comic tale Obake no Kyutaro, popularly called "Oba-Q". After it appeared in February 1964 in Shonen Sande ("Shonen Sunday") magazine, its success was so meteoric, the publisher changed his magazine from a monthly to a weekly, starring the strange amorphous figure of Oba-Q which soon began to turn up everywhere as toys and on posters and children's clothes.
This success was followed by Ninja Hattorikun, an amiable idiot and above all the greatest children's icon ever since the Seventies, Doraemon.
It is hard to explain to Westerners the perverse fascination of this atomic-powered robotic cat. It far surpasses in originality the (Western) insufferable cat Garfield.
The bicephalic authors first unleashed Doraemon in the pages of Shogakkan, a comic weekly of the standard 300-page format, in 1970. In a typical childhood fantasy, the little boy Nobita, a bookish, bespectacled nerd, discovers this cute, cool, magical cat in the drawer of the desk at which all Japanese children slave over their homework. 
Doraemon is smart, with three spiky whiskers on either side of a capacious mouth, and a sort of kangaroo pouch from which he produces all kinds of astonishing things, including a miniature helicopter that enables him to zoom around the room and the countryside.
He is surely a small child's dream-fulfilment fantasy of an all-powerful protector in a harsh adult world of endless swotting and school bullying.

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