SINGAPORE – Kawaii sweetness has arrived. For the first time outside of Japan, Doraemon-inspired artwork by top Japanese artists, original designs of the robot cat, and even themed sweets will be available at the Doraemon Singapore 2022 Expo.
Hosted by the National Museum of Singapore (NMS), the exhibition was first shown in Japan in 2002 and then revived in 2017. He has since visited nine cities in Japan, receiving some 600,000 visitors.
Fans will want to see early iterations of Doraemon and the cast of characters from the first manga series. Doraemon has been translated into 17 languages and appears in 20 countries and regions across platforms including comics, TV, and movies.
Very popular in Japan, the Doraemon phenomenon is also felt in the art world, influencing renowned artists such as Takashi Murakami and Yoshitomo Nara.
The two artists will be featured in the exhibition along with 26 other Japanese artists and artist groups, as well as two Singaporean artists – Leslie Kee and Jahan Loh. Singaporeans have been specially tasked with creating original works of art.
Speaking to the Straits Times via Zoom, Murakami says, “Everyone in Japan knows Doraemon. He is on television almost every day. It’s like breathing air.
On the impact the character has had on his artistic practice, the artist states, “Like the air, I can’t tell you how Doraemon influenced me. Air is air – (Doraemon) is like breathing.
There’s a serious side to all this kawaii cuteness.
Explaining the popularity of Doraemon, manga, and anime in Japan, Murakami says it started nearly 80 years ago after World War II. “We had to find entertainment with a very small budget. Manga culture is very cheap. I think that was the post-war reality. It was part of the mindset of the Japanese people,” he adds.
The exhibition, which spans over 1,300 m² of gallery floor space, is copyrighted by Fujiko-Pro and presented by multi-brand retailer Leyouki, with support from NMS.
In 2020, NMS had presented a Doraemon showcase called Doraemon’s Time-Traveling Adventures in Singapore. Although there were Doraemon figurines, this previous showcase did not feature any artwork.
Interestingly, Ms. Chung May Khuen, Director of the NMS, reveals that 30% of visitors who attended had never been to the NMS before. “Following the success of this showcase, many of our visitors shared that they were interested in learning more about this iconic character,” she says.