Meet The Creator of Doraemon

Get to know Fujiko F. Fujio and find out which of his characters he identified with through his own words

By Fujiko F Fujio Museum

Exhbition Room 1 (Permanent Exhibition Room) DisplayOriginal Source: 川崎市 藤子・F・不二雄ミュージアム

Fujiko F. Fujio is the author of Doraemon, a widely known and widely loved manga that has garnered fans from all over the world. Via an exhibition of his works at the Kawasaki City Fujiko F. Fujio Museum, we examine his legacy.

Inside View Manga CornerOriginal Source: ©Fujiko-Pro

Fujiko F. Fujio - real name, Hiroshi Fujimoto - was born in 1933 in Takaoka City, Toyama prefecture. He made his debut as a manga artist at the age of 17, with works including "Little ghost Q-taro " (Shogakukan, 1964), "Perman" (Shogakukan, 1967), "Kiterestu Daihyakka"(Ie no Hikari, 1974), and, most obviously, Doraemon (Shogakukan, 1970), which continues to be broadcast as an anime in 55 countries around the world. How did his 62 years of creative output evolve manga?

Fujiko F Fujio's portraitOriginal Source: ©Fujiko-Pro

"I enjoy drawing my manga, and people enjoy reading the manga. That kind of manga has always been my ideal"

The delicate-fingered man you see in the photograph above had himself enjoyed manga since he was a kindergarten student, and entertained himself as a child by hosting picture-story shows. When Fujiko. F was in the 5th grade of elementary school, a youth named Motoo Abiko - later to become known as Fujiko Fujio A., since for a while they shared the Fujiko Fujio pseudonym - moved from the neighbouring town, and the two immediately hit it off over their love of manga. Alongside studying, they immersed themselves in the manga world, circulating a handwritten magazine amongst friends, and achieving publication as an amateur in the "Manga Shonen" and "Shonen Gaho" magazines.

Introduction of his connection with Osamu TezukaOriginal Source: 川崎市 藤子・F・不二雄ミュージアム

"We never graduated from manga."

It was Osamu Tezuka, the so-called "god of manga," that really electrified the Fujiko F. boys. When he read Tezuka's "Shin Takarajima" (1947), he was blown away, recalling that "the feeling of movement, and the sense of pace meant it was more like watching a movie." At that time, long before manga gained any kind of respectability, it was considered children's literature, with adults being expected to move on to books. Fujiko. F, however, became so addicted to Tezuka's works, and the grand themes expressed within, that he never moved on.

Display His favorite work toolsOriginal Source: ©Fujiko-Pro

Despite increasing success, Fujio. F's personality remained unpretentious, and his methods grounded. No elaborate painting materials were used; he used a common brand of painting tools, sold at most stationery stores. Fujio. F could be the only manga ‘giant’ to commute to his studio in Shinjuku on the Odakyu Line with a bag full of books and a lunch box.

Special Exhibition "Doraemon 50th Anniversary Exhibition" New manga series previewOriginal Source: 川崎市 藤子・F・不二雄ミュージアム

When the serialization of "Doraemon" started in 1970, it was in the midst of a trend for Gekiga - realistically painted manga - that was almost the opposite of Fujiko. F's style. He felt lost by the changing times. However, from a desire to pursue the style that he had been producing so far, and from his preference for a mixture of science fiction, fantasy and adventure, the story of "Doraemon" suddenly occurred to him. He initially worried that the manga would not be understood or welcomed by modern children, but the result is plain to see – the masterpiece has become one of the greats of manga culture.

Special Exhibition "Doraemon 50th Anniversary Exhibition Phase 2"Original Source: 川崎市 藤子・F・不二雄ミュージアム

"I want to create a character with temperature"

Despite being a dependable 22nd-century cat-shaped robot, Doraemon is sensitive to being pinched, and is scared of mice. His human friend Nobita, similarly, is lazy and bad at studying, but throws himself into desperate situations without a second thought. The two main characters of “Doraemon” are by no means perfect. It is the result of Fujio. F's on-going desire to depict characters with real human flaws. He excels at creating characters with whom the reader can identify and sympathize.

Passage to F-TheaterOriginal Source: 川崎市 藤子・F・不二雄ミュージアム

"Well, Nobita is myself."

Apparently, Fujiko. F believed that the character nearest to him in terms of personality was Nobita. Neither were good at sports and both were weak-willed, but Fujiko. F also thought that one of Nobita's greatest strengths was his ability to objectively probe his own personality, allowing him to identify his own flaws and ultimately to make resolutions like "I have to grow up". In a scene from "The Eve of Nobita's Marriage" ("Sixth grade elementary school", August 1981 issue), the father of the heroine, Shizuka-chan, describes Nobita as "a person who wishes for the happiness of others, and can commiserate with the unhappiness of others", and concludes that "that is the most important quality for humans". Nobita's obvious humanity is a possible explanation as to why Doraemon has been continuously enjoyed for the past 50 years.

Rooftop Harappa (field)Original Source: 川崎市 藤子・F・不二雄ミュージアム

One of the charms of "Doraemon" is, without doubt, the array of secret tools. Fans relish the novel tools which emerged from Doraemon's 4D pocket, such as the 'Anywhere door', the 'Hopter' and 'Memory bread'. It is said that fans of Fujiko. F would frequently invent new tools and send their ideas to him.

Special Exhibition "Doraemon 50th Anniversary Exhibition" Original drawings of "Doraemon"Original Source: 川崎市 藤子・F・不二雄ミュージアム

"For me, SF stands for Sukoshi [a little] Fushigi [mysterious]"

What all of Fujiko. F's science fiction works share is a sense of friendliness and fun. When scientific advancements appear, they naturally blend into the ordinary lives of children. He used science fiction as a vehicle for exploring the world of “Sukoshi (a little) Fushigi (mysterious), rather than for exploring science itself. Fujiko. F thought of manga as a "means of expression with infinite possibilities", so he created a fusion of everyday life with the fantastic and impossible.

Exhibition RoomⅠ Original drawing of "Instant Vacation Camera" from "Doraemon".Original Source: 川崎市 藤子・F・不二雄ミュージアム

Fujiko. F was a man with multiple hobbies, one of which was travelling abroad, and the atmosphere and landscape of the lands he visited was naturally reflected in the work. Interested not only in famous cities but also in ancient ruins, he visited, amongst others, Greece, Mexico, Egypt, and Easter Island. His camera was his constant travelling partner, and he had been fascinated by photography since his junior high school time, when post-wartime food shortages might have been more of a concern. Understandably, “Doraemon” features many secret tools related to cameras and photography.

Fujiko F Sensei's RoomOriginal Source: 川崎市 藤子・F・不二雄ミュージアム

"I want you to be greedy for things that interest you."

Fujiko. F had an endless list of hobbies including photography (both still and moving), reading, trains, music, watching films, playing accordion, and astronomy. As advice to aspiring manga authors, he suggested that they should greedily seek inspiration from many different things, not just manga, since he knew that ideas could become stale the moment that they were put on page, and had to be constantly refreshed.

Fujiko F s RoomOriginal Source: 川崎市 藤子・F・不二雄ミュージアム

He also had a particular fondness for dinosaurs. His work desk was surrounded by dinosaur figures, some of which were gifts from his daughters, so it was unsurprising that he used dinosaurs as part of the story for the first Doraemon movie. It was very well received by both audiences and critics, and laid the foundation for a series of films that continues to this day.

Exhbition Room 1 Display ”Doraemon original drawings drawn for different age groups”Original Source: 川崎市 藤子・F・不二雄ミュージアム

"To know a child, know the child inside you."

"Doraemon" started serialization in magazines pushing manga for children of different school grades. For the lower grades, the frames were large and the dialogue simple, but for the upper grades, it dealt with more complex topics - romance, or social issues. As we grow older, our sensibilities and mindset inevitably change, but Fujiko. F would always cast himself back to the mind of a child when drawing, by looking back carefully on his own childhood.

Everyone's Square  ”Diorama of Nobita's room”Original Source: 川崎市 藤子・F・不二雄ミュージアム

"Each manga should be drawn as though you were drawing for the very first time"

Giving a sense of reality to a somewhat fantastic story is a challenge, but we can see the great attention to detail Fujiko. F lavished in the letters and instructions that he gave to his staff. His instructions for the appearance of Nobita's bookshelf, for example, stated that "the bookshelf should be fitting with Nobita's personality... in an untidy state, composed mostly of manga". However, he was also keenly aware of the dangers of sticking too firmly to the formula and getting stuck in a rut, with the result that his advice to employees concluded with words of encouragement – “let’s do our best together’.

"Sensei's Sunday" Display Face as FatherOriginal Source: 川崎市 藤子・F・不二雄ミュージアム

Fujiko. F relished spending time with his family, and loved entertaining children. When making toast for his three daughters, he would make patterns in the jam, and each Christmas they would receive colourful, hand-made "Santa Claus's mailbox". In the many photos that exist showing him with his family, his face exudes joy and contentment.

"Sensei's Sunday" Display, a variety of books for childrenOriginal Source: 川崎市 藤子・F・不二雄ミュージアム

Every evening, Fujiko. F would pass on the excitement that he felt in his childhood by telling stories to his daughters. "Journey to the West" and "Arabian Nights" had been his own favourites since childhood, and quickly became favourites for his daughters as well.

"Sensei's Sunday" DisplayOriginal Source: 川崎市 藤子・F・不二雄ミュージアム

"Once in a lifetime, I want to create a masterpiece that will remain in the hearts of children forever."

So Fujiko. F wrote in a letter to his wife. If he could see the success of Doraemon, which has been enjoyed for more than 50 years, he would surely feel that his wish has been achieved. His world of dreams and adventures has continued, and will continue to fascinate both children and those who used to be children.

Credits: Story


This article was produced in August 2020, based on the interview conducted at the time.
Cooperation with:
Kawasaki City Fujiko F Fujio Museum
Fujiko Pro

Photo: Shinsaku Yasushima
Text & Translation: Makiko Oji
Edit: Makiko Oji, Saori Hayashida
Production: Skyrocket Corporation

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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