Doraemon fans: In you’re like me and missed this scandal back in 2007, take a look at this Flash sample of the dojinshi “final volume” of Doraemon that was suppressed by publisher Shogakukan for basically becoming too popular. This is just a sample, but the early pages promise much intrigue – Doraemon’s battery dies when Nobita is still a boy, so he vows to bring his best friend back to life by becoming the world’s premiere robotics engineer.
Here is a video of a 2007 Japanese news story describing the scandal.
According to Wikipedia, Japan’s copyright laws, based on a 1997 Supreme Court case, hold that while there is no copyright on a manga character, depicting those characters in a specific manga without permission would constitute a copyright violation. Usually, the publishers do not take action against dojinshi publishers because they are a valuable way for fans to get the most out of their favorite characters, and they serve as practice to develop the next generation of artists. However, this case “crossed a line” – Shogakukan and Fujiko Productions were apparently worried that giving readers the impression that the Doraemon series is over would dampen interest in future movies or other derivative ventures. They demanded that the man cease selling the manga and give them whatever money he made from it, demands which the author agreed to. Tragically, it appears that he gave up drawing manga entirely following the scandal.
(h/t to Aceface for the links)
4 thoughts on “Read (part of) the unofficial final volume of Doraemon that the MAN doesn’t want you to see!”
I remember reading about this in the Yomiuri. It kind of got me thinking about property rights in general. For instance, I think this Doraemon guy is a poacher, and gets what he deserves, but at the same time I’m all for guerrilla gardening–quite possibly a double standard of mine.
In a related bit of news, do you think this guy deserves to get arrested for making construction barrel art?
As a regular poacher of Japanese material for translation, I sympathize with someone who would take the Doraemon story in new directions. But at the same time this is on the level of the Chinese Harry Potter ripoffs – there’s a fine line between fan fiction and a commercial ripoff, and yes this guy probably crossed that line. To their credit, Shogakukan and the author’s legacy company have not tried to crack down on any other titles.
The story reminds me a bit of the physicist interviewed one time on This American Life who actually became a scientist originally to discover if it was possible to invent a time machine that would let him rescue or at least see his father who died when he was 12.
Apparently last week there was some acting troupe that did a comedy show in Kyoto parodying Doraemon, also as a sequel involving a grown-up Nobita. The difference in this version was that after spending his entire childhood dependent on Doraemon to solve all his problems, the only lesson adult Nobita really learned was complete dependency, and he grew up to be a total loser. I wish I’d known about it in advance, but the friend who told me about it had lost her phone and only told me about it after…
Of course, unlike the dojinshi author, they were smart enough to avoid the infringement issues by using DIFFERENT NAMES that were only suggestive of the original characters. I understand the impulse to want and write something that looks like an official last chapter, but he could just as easily write the story, and comment on the original Doraemon, in the same way by just tweaking the names and character design just slightly enough to be in safe territory, like thousands and thousands of artists do all the time.
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